What does risk mean in the context of dams?

    Risk is part of every day life. The morning commute, the mid-afternoon chocolate bar and the after work football game can all increase your risk of injury or even death, but we rarely give this thought. That's probably a good thing because humans are notoriously bad at accurately quantifying risk - hands up everyone who worries about sharks when swimming but never thinks about falling coconuts which are statistically more likely to kill you.

    In the world of large infrastructure, entire teams spend every day thinking about risk. In this context, understanding risk informs how bridges, roads, power stations and dams should be constructed, used and safely maintained. In this context, risk assessments rely on data from real and modelled events, that tell us how likely events are to occur and what will happen if they do, combined with expert judgement. Bridge limits, the location of road barriers and choice of building material are just a few of the decisions that are informed by risk assessments. With any risk, the goal is to always to remove or reduce it as much as possible. 

    At Hydro Tasmania, we have a dam safety team who continuously monitor dam risks and recommend actions to remove or reduce them. Risks rarely stay constant so the team often re-prioritise these actions to make sure we're always working on the most important things first. The dam safety team draw on data and knowledge from around the world - and with approximately 60,000 large dams in operation, that's a lot of experience. Every action we undertake is designed to keep you safer and our goal is to make sure our dams don't increase your day-to-day risk.