Dam Break Assessment

Hypothetical dam breach scenarios are analysed within the dam industry primarily to assess downstream hazard potential. This determines the Potential Impact Category (PIC) and sets standards that need to be adopted for dam design, construction and operation.

We undertake dambreak assessments of varying complexity to suit a variety of situations. Dam break assessment requirements for a small rural irrigation dam may be significantly different to a large hydro-scheme dam with high downstream hazard potential.

We have a proven record in successfully completing peer reviewed ‘sunny day’ and
flood-induced dambreak assessments throughout the world.


Our dambreak assessments are often divided into the following parts:

  • Assessment of dam breach potential failure mechanisms, including breach parameters and discharge hydrographs.
  • Use of empirical methodologies or qualitative assessments to identify downstream inundation area and flow characteristics.
  • Quantitative assessment using 1-D or 2-D numerical modelling to map downstream flooding characteristics and inundation areas.
  • Identification of populations at risk and incremental damage potential to major infrastructure.
  • Recommendation of Potential Impact Category in accordance with NZSOLD guidelines and Dam Safety Regulations 2008. 

We also provide expert witness evidence for regulatory and Environment Court hearings, and peer review services.

We offer other services associated with dambreak assessments and these include:

  • Dam design

  • Hydrology and water resources
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Hydropower

  • Irrigation

  • Construction site supervision
  • Computational modelling
  • Consenting
  • Expert evidence
Key Contacts

David Leong David Leong

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