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Southern Rural Water (SRW) says recent rainfall and last week’s earthquake may have tested the integrity of some farm dams, serving as a timely reminder for landowners to check the safety of their farm dams.

Manager Groundwater and Rivers, Bryce Morden said that heavy rain over winter and spring periods means that that some private dams could fail if they have not been properly maintained. Adding to the risk was the recent earthquake that occurred which may have damaged dam banks.

He said some landowners in the region have found out the hard way in recent years that a failed dam is expensive to repair and can deny them a vital source of water when you need it most.

“Collapsed dams can also cause significant damage to the environment and to neighbouring downstream properties,” he said. “If your dam collapses and causes damage to someone else’s property, you may be liable for the costs.”

Southern Rural Water recommends that landowners check their dams regularly as part of their weekly routine.

Among other things, landowners should ensure their spillway is designed to take a 1-in-100 year flood and is free of obstructions. They should also ensure any compensation pipes are working effectively.

On the dam itself, check the dam wall for any signs of leaking, cracks, slippage or erosion and ensure your dam wall is kept clear of trees, shrubs and weeds. You should not allow stock any access to the dam wall, as they can cause damaging erosion.

 “If anyone notices an issue with a private dam, we advise them to immediately phone either Southern Rural Water or a qualified engineer with experience in farm dams,” Bryce said.

“Our Field Officers also do routine checks on the condition of dams and will ask property owners to make improvements where necessary.”

For more information about farm dams, phone Southern Rural Water on 1300 139 510 or visit

There is a detailed guide to private dams available on DELWP’s website: