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Dams and Hydrology

Dam Safety Act

The Dam Safety Act and its attendant regulation came into effect April 11, 2002.

Two types of dams are targeted by the Act.

High-capacity dams

  • Dams 1 metre or more in height having an impounding capacity greater than 1,000,000 m3
  • Dams 2.5 metres or more in height having an impounding capacity greater than 30,000 m3
  • Dams 7.5 metres or more in height, regardless of impounding capacity

Low-capacity dams

  • Dams 2 metres or more in height that are not high-capacity dams

Main provisions apply to high-capacity dams.

The Dam Safety Act imposes a series of measures governing the construction, alteration and operation of high-capacity dams. It requires of dam owners that they regularly maintain in good repair and monitor their works. The owners of dams likely to be a threat to persons must also, in collaboration with concerned municipalities and Regional County Municipalities (RCMs), prepare emergency action plans.

Owners of high-capacity dams must have their dam undergo a safety review by an engineer to verify the exact condition of the works and determine, where applicable, the proposed remedial measures for increased safety of the works and compliance with today’s standards. Owners of existing dams have three to ten years to have the safety review carried out, depending on dam failure consequences, their condition and the reliability of their discharge facilities.

The Act also provides for the establishment of a register for all dams one metre or more in height. This register is available on line.

A summary of measures provided by the Act and its regulation is available at the following address: barrages/reglement-en.htm

Other documents

Dam Safety Act

Dam Safety Regulation

Guide to keeping a register for high-capacity dams

Measures provided by the Dam Safety Act and Regulation


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Gouvernement du Québec
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