With their awesome capacity and power generating potential, large dams are a technological and engineering feat seen throughout New Zealand. However, they also raise significant safety concerns that were addressed at the 2017 Risk Informed Decision Making (RIDM) Workshop, hosted by the University of Canterbury’s Quake Centre.
QUAKE CENTRE NZSOLD RISK INFORMED DECISION MAKING (RIDM) WORKSHOP 2017
It was over 100 years ago that industry in New Zealand began to harness the mighty power of the country’s many lakes, rivers and waterways as dams for hydroelectric power generation.
Today’s extensive network of dams now provide more than half of the country's electricity needs. The express purpose of The New Zealand Society of Large Dams (NZSOLD) is to be actively involved in all aspects of these dams and their safety.
NZSOLD and the Quake Centre are inextricably linked. Part of managing the safety of such large assets is assessing their vulnerability to seismic activity, and dam earthquake research is a big part of what the Quake Centre does.
The need for advancing discussion and knowledge on the topic of RIDM in dam safety remains crucial. For although dam safety deficiencies are so to speak “a slow burn” issue, the consequences were they to fail in an event such as a large earthquake, are potentially catastrophic.
Dam safety guidelines set out by NZSOLD in 2015 introduced this important topic of RIDM, and recommended that; “An owner may find it useful to develop a risk-informed decision making framework, that allows the organisation to manage their dam safety deficiencies.”
A collaborative approach to sharing the latest scientific research and knowledge, through workshops such as these, is part of the overarching theme of the Quake Centre in it’s pursuit to improve community seismic resilience.