New Dam Safety Regulations

The new regulations on dam safety (Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2022) have been announced today (13 May 2022) by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE). The regulations have been made to protect people, property, and the environment from the potential impacts of dam failures, and they set a minimum requirement for dam safety in New Zealand. The new regulations will commence in May 2024.

The New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD) strongly supports the post-construction dam safety regulations. The regulations will create a stronger, consistent regulatory framework for the active management, inspection, and maintenance of dams that will help ensure their ongoing safety. NZSOLD has worked in collaboration with MBIE and Engineering New Zealand to provide input to the new regulations. NZSOLD would like to acknowledge all the organisations and individuals who have contributed their time and expertise to the new regulations.

Further information and resources to support dam owners, technical practitioners, and regional authorities with their responsibilities under the new regulations, are available on MBIE’s website. This includes an online learning module and also a guidance document prepared by MBIE, which are excellent starting points to become familiar with the new dam safety regulations.

MBIE will provide further resources in the future to continue to assist the industry to prepare for the commencement of the regulations in 2024. These resources will be developed in collaboration with Engineering New Zealand and NZSOLD. Further resources will be made available on the MBIE website, as they are developed.

An important part of the new dam safety regulations is the role of ‘Recognised Engineer’. Two types of Recognised Engineers will be required to audit and certify:

• potential impact classifications (PIC)
• dam safety assurance programmes (DSAP)

NZSOLD, in collaboration with Engineering New Zealand and MBIE, is actively developing a programme for assessing and registering Recognised Engineers to support compliance with the new dam safety regulations. This includes the development of a framework for assessing the required qualifications and competencies for the roles.

Engineers will be registered as Recognised Engineers of one or both types. Recognised Engineers must also be Chartered Professional Engineers (CPEng).

We expect the first Recognised Engineers will be registered and ready to support dam owners to comply with new requirements by early 2023, prior to their commencement in May 2024.

Further information about Recognised Engineers can be found on the Engineering New Zealand website. Further information will be added to the Engineering New Zealand website as it is developed, confirming the developed programme for assessing and registering Recognised Engineers.


MBIE is actively working on proposals for the occupational regulation of engineers. This proposal includes:

• registration of all engineers
• a licensing regime to restrict practice in high-risk engineering disciplines – which may include some disciplines involved with dam engineering and dam safety.

MBIE is proposing to establish a new regulator, overseen by an independent board that reports to a Minister of the Crown. The details and timeframes to develop policy and implement changes are still unclear but it will likely take many years.

For this reason, the current Chartered Professional Engineers (CPEng) framework, together with that newly developed for the Recognised Engineer, will be used to implement the new dam safety regulations.

We will continue to work actively and in close collaboration with Engineering New Zealand and MBIE to prepare the industry for the commencement of the dam safety regulations in May 2024. NZSOLD will maintain active communication with its members to ensure they are informed of developments, and will consider education, training and other needs as part of its strategic objectives.