Dam Safety Regulatory Processes

The Dam Safety Regulatory Processes are used to implement the Regulatory Framework, and measure and report on the performance of dams in Alberta. Key processes include:

  • Authorizations
  • On-going monitoring and compliance assurance
  • Deficiency tracking and follow-ups
  • Emergency preparedness and response
  • Regulatory reporting

Key Processes


An authorization is the proponent's permission, in accordance with the legislation, to proceed with an activity, operation, or water diversion. Requirements included in an authorization are the "project-specific rules" for that activity and non-compliance with them is an offence.

Authorizations consider the life cycle of an activity (i.e. all phases of the activity such as design, construction, operation, maintenance, surveillance, decommissioning, closure and reclamation); this also enables "cradle-to-grave" environmental protection and natural resource management.

Authorizations can be amended, renewed, cancelled and suspended. Before issuing an authorization, the terms and conditions and the consequences of non-compliance are discussed with the regulated party to ensure that those are clear and well understood.

Dam Safety does not have authority in issuing Authorizations, but rather provides technical support to the Regional Water Act Approvals Teams - who do hold authority for Authorizations. The Dam Safety Team performs technical reviews of the Authorization applications regarding dams or canals and establishes dam safety terms and conditions for authorizations.

For more information, see:

Please note that the procedures and works of the Regulatory Approvals Centre (RAC), departmental Approvals and Compliance, Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), and any other regulatory authority that has jurisdiction under the Water Act or any other Act or Regulation are not part of dam safety processes. For more information, please see:

On-Going Monitoring and Compliance Assurance

An on-going monitoring program is essential to ensure compliance with key Dam Safety Regulatory Requirements. For monitoring processes to be effective the Dam Safety Regulatory Requirements must be clear, measurable, consistent and enforceable.

The dam safety on-going monitoring and compliance assurance processes are designed to provide adequate assurance that the regulated community is complying with the Dam Safety Regulatory Requirements included in the Dam Safety Regulatory Framework in Alberta. The key Dam Safety on-going monitoring and compliance assurance processes include:

Mandatory Regulatory Compliance Reporting by Dam Owners

This includes reporting on plans and operation, safety assessments and evaluations, and safety directives. For details on the type and frequency of the documents to be submitted, see the key Dam Safety Regulatory Requirements at:

Audit Inspections by Dam Safety Regulator

Dam Safety performs a certain number of audit inspections annually for safety assessment of the structures and to ensure compliance with Part 6 of the Water (Ministerial) Regulation, which deals with Dam and Canal Safety. For a summary of the criteria used to establish targets for annual audit inspections by Alberta Dam Safety, see:

Deficiency Tracking and Follow-ups

Dam Safety tracks all dam safety deficiencies identified based on required regulatory reporting, safety assessments and evaluation, and audit inspections. The follow-ups with the dam owners and operators are based on the identification of critical dam safety deficiencies and the type of tools used for the follow-ups are based on the response by the dam owners and operators.

For more information, see:

Emergency Preparedness and Response

This process includes education, prevention and enforcement regarding the emergency preparedness and response requirements for safety of dams and canals, under different scenarios of potential failure of these structures. This also includes building and maintaining emergency preparedness and response tools and arranging, collaborating and participating in different education and prevention events arranged by other emergency preparedness and response teams and stakeholders as required.

For more information, see:

Regulatory Reporting

This process includes reporting on dam safety regulatory performance measures and activities. Dam Safety is in the process of upgrading its database to be able to report on dam safety regulatory performance measures and activities in real-time. The target for completing the database upgrade and reporting is 2017-18.

For more information, see:

Related Information


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Updated: Jun 7, 2018