Leaky dam’s owner must apply for licence

March 4, 2021 BY

Emergency services pumped water out of the dam in early October to minimise the risk of flooding.

THE head of Southern Rural Water (SRW) has met in person with some of the people affected by last year’s dam leakage in Torquay North, and said it is up to the dam’s owner to fix the problem.

About 100 residents from Pintail Drive, Druids Glen, Lowtide Drive, and Cosy Avenue were evacuated from their houses for two days in early October after three Pintail Drive properties had their yards flooded.

High transfer pumps were then used to drain about 70 megalitres from the dam, removing the immediate risk of a dam failure and exposing an uncapped pipe.

SRW managing director Cameron FitzGerald said the water authority’s public consultation about the dam included establishing a committee representing people affected by the leakage.

The first two meetings of this committee were held via Zoom, but the third, on Thursday last week, was face-to-face.

Mr FitzGerald said he updated the committee about the dam owner being issued a notice of contravention by SRW under the Water Act for not having a licence for the dam, and having some time to rectify that.

“He has until April 9 to make an application to us to do that, and we’ll have to go through an assessment process, should he choose to apply; it’s up to him to apply.

“If he doesn’t apply, then he needs to decommission the dam.”

If an application is made, SRW will appoint an independent panel of qualified experts to assess it.

“The purpose of this is to make sure that everybody who is affected by this circumstance has the opportunity in a very clear, open and transparent process to have a say,” Mr FitzGerald said.

He said SRW, as the regulator of private dams in some circumstances, had only recently discovered the dam did not have a licence.

“Having now become aware, we need to ensure that that’s there, and we talked to the community about some of the circumstances around that,” Mr FitzGerald said.

“We think there’s some improvements we could make in terms of our operations in terms of picking these things up.”

Mr FitzGerald said his impression of last week’s meeting was that residents were appreciate of SRW’s work on the process so far.

“I hope that they feel we are being respectful and open with them, but they want to see a prompt resolution to this, and they want to be confident that if the dam is to stay, that it is safe,” he said.