Warragamba Dam Operational Risk Assessment (ORA)

HARC was engaged by WaterNSW to develop a comprehensive operational risk assessment (ORA) methodology for dam systems and to carry out its pilot application to one of Australia’s most complex dams; Warragamba Dam.

The ORA methodology is the first of its kind for the Australian dams’ sector and integrates corporate and societal risk criteria, deals with physical and non-physical failures, is quantitative to semi-quantitative, aligns with so far as is reasonably practicable (SFAIRP) framework principles and addresses a gap in the risk informed decision making (RIDM) processes adopted by dam owners.

The pilot application of the ORA framework enabled WaterNSW to carry out a comprehensive review of its operational systems and practices at Warragamba Dam, and its integration within the dam safety management system brings dam and operational safety practices closer to a safety case model. Outputs from applying the ORA framework are applicable to individual dams, but also at a portfolio level and organisational scale by directly improving internal and external risk awareness and informing the corporate planning and asset investment decision process.

The acceleration in inter-dependence between critical infrastructure systems and the acute nature of shocks from disruption means that the need for comprehensive operational risk assessments will increase into the future.