Alberta Dam Changes

This week the Alberta Government made significant changes to the Water (Ministerial) Regulation and released a new Alberta Dam and Canal Safety Directive (the Directive). The new Directive introduces substantial changes for existing water storage structures in Alberta.

Higher Ground Consulting (HGC) outlines some of the pertinent points below:

  • Dams are now defined as “a barrier designed as is or is to be constructed for the purpose of retaining, storing or diverting water”. i.e. everything that holds water is a dam.
  • All dams must have a Consequences of Failure Classification completed.
  • Dams with more than 30,000 m3 of storage AND more than 2.5m in height, or have a Consequences Classification of Significant or higher, are subject to the new Directive.
  • Engineer-Of-Record / Designer-Of-Record are defined, and both are required to have a minimum 15 years of dam or canal experience.
  • Owners must have an “Operations Manager” and a “Safety Manager” both of whom are defined and must have 10 and 15 years of dam experience respectively.
  • Introduces the concept of “Accountable Executive” who is ultimately responsible (and therefore liable) for the dam.
  • Prescriptive and detailed requirements for site investigations and new dam applications have been introduced, including updated seismic analysis and seepage modelling requirements.
  • Construction completions report is required, and needs to be prepared and certified by a Qualified Professional. It must include photographs as well as a formal statement noting that the dam was constructed in accordance with the plans.
  • Annual engineering inspections must be completed.
  • Annual performance reviews must be completed by the Designer-of-Record until the first formal Dam Safety Review occurs. This is for up to 10 years for Significant Consequences dams.

In 2016 the Government of British Columbia made substantial changes to their Dam Safety Regulations.  HGC has helped 9 clients transition over 100 existing structures to meet the new regulations in B.C. and is currently the Engineer of Record on over 30 regulated dams in Alberta and B.C.  HGC is working with clients and the Alberta government to start planning the transition to compliance to the new Alberta regulations.

If you have any questions or require any assistance with the revised Water (Ministerial) Regulation, or the new Alberta Dam and Canal Safety Directive, please contact HGC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *