FARMERS are being urged to take action on their dams in light of several Victorian dams collapsing recently.
Agriculture Victoria Farm Water Specialist Clem Sturmfels said the collapses were a timely reminder that regular and ongoing farm dam maintenance is critically important.
“It’s never too late in the season to check your dam or do maintenance work – it should be done continually, all year round,” he said.
“Considering we are now in thunderstorm season, now is a very good time to check your dam before more heavy rain.”
Mr Sturmfels said farm dams were failing at a significantly higher rate than in previous years partly because of recent heavy rain and partly because of poor construction, unstable soils and/or a lack of routine maintenance.
He said dam issues can range from small tunnels, bank sinking, spillway erosion and “overtopping” (water going over the top of the bank, eroding it), through to total failure when the bank collapses and all water is lost.
“Small tunnels near the full-supply level can sometimes be temporarily plugged with sand bags placed on the upstream side of the bank but in more extreme situations the solution is to drop the water level as quickly as possible,” he said.
“In most cases, rebuilding part or all of the dam bank is the only long-term solution.
“However, before doing any dam repair works it is important you consider the safety of yourself, contractors and employees.
“Landholders also need to consider the impact that dam works might have on their downstream neighbours.”
Mr Sturmfels said landowners should always consult their local council planning officer and water authority before starting any work, in case a planning permit or licence is required.
For more information about farm dam maintenance, visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/farmdam