8 July 2022

Why I work in water: Daniel Turnbull

Daniel Turnbull has always had a fascination with rivers, creeks and dams.

As Hunter Water’s Dam Safety Engineer, he is responsible for ensuring our dams will continue to provide safe and reliable water to our community into the future.

Daniel says his role brings together a range of disciplines such as geology, geotechnical and structural engineering, and hydraulics – the study of the motion of water or fluid dynamics.

“Dams engineering is an area where there’s always something new to learn and our knowledge and standards improve all the time,” he says.

“For complex assessments, we engage with technical specialists, like those involved in helping us to understand hydraulic conditions that have been creating acoustic vibrations at our labyrinth spillway at Grahamstown Dam, or those assessing how our dams would perform under extreme loadings such as those that could be experienced in an earthquake.”

“We need to ensure that our structures continue to perform as expected and we frequently reassess them to ensure they meet modern standards.”

Daniel is primarily responsible for implementing the Dam Safety Management System, which aims to minimise the risk to people and property downstream from Grahamstown Dam, Chichester Dam and the Winding Creek Detention Basins.

This is done through a rigorous program of inspections, monitoring, instrumentation, surveillance evaluation, safety reviews, risk assessments, operation and maintenance, and emergency planning.

The latest advance Hunter Water has made under Daniel’s leadership has been to implement satellite monitoring of our dams, a program that is at the forefront of the water sector nationally.

Apart from his current role, Daniel’s varied career saw him complete water and wastewater modelling studies, hydrology, and dam break assessments.

He also worked alongside some of the nation’s best dam engineers as Hunter Water’s representative on the former NSW Dams Safety Committee’s Surveillance Sub-Committee.

The committee was responsible for ensuring safety standards and processes were being applied across all dams in NSW, a function now overseen by Dams Safety NSW.

Throughout it all, Daniel says serving the community has been a driving force.

“I’ve been able to help ensure the safety of our dams and also assisted small regional towns to resolve issues within their water and wastewater networks in my previous roles,” he says.

“The provision of water and wastewater is essential to the quality of people’s lives, so we should be proud of our contribution to that.”

Visit our Dams and Catchments page for more information about how we operate these sites.