Dam Safety Emergencies

Call 000 and ask for Police to report a dam safety emergency that threatens life or property.   The Tasmania Police coordinate Dam Safety Emergency responses.

DPIPWE Contacts

Except in the case of life threatening dam emergencies, the Dam Safety Hotline is the first point of contact in relation to dam safety matters.  This contact is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   Dam Safety Hotline 1800 316 377 


What is a dam safety emergency?

  • any dam safety incident where there is an immediate Population at Risk (PAR), or there is a potential for significant economic or environmental damage.
  • a dam safety emergency relates to dams that hold, permanently or temporarily, liquid, waste or other material.
  • a dam safety emergency excludes the engagement of flood protection structures like levees during a flood, as the State Special Emergency Management Plan for floods will take primacy, and the management of the levee is focussed on flood protection.

Types and causes of dam safety emergencies

A dam safety emergency is deemed to have arisen from any of the following situations:

  • an actual break in the body of the dam or the abutments causing a release of stored water.
  • collapse of the spillway or overtopping of the dam wall causing erosion of the embankment and threatening a break in the dam.
  • failure of an intake tower or outlet works, leading to uncontrolled outflows.
  • potential failure deduced from surveillance or direct observations, such as increased seepage rates and cracking.
  • earth tremors of such intensity as to endanger the integrity of the dam.
  • a combination of extreme weather and/or unstable soil conditions and consequent risk of collapse or breach.

An unplanned release of stored water endangering the community downstream is an emergency which can occur without structural failure of the dam, such as

  • overtopping due to a flash flood surge or a wave caused by a landslide, being of a magnitude beyond the capacity of the spillway.
  • unannounced release due to operational error or malfunctioning valve system or sabotage.