With climate change, flood protection provided by dams will be ever more important.
Prague (July 5 2017)
Climate change is impacting the variability of water resources with more severe and frequent droughts and/or more flood. To lessen the consequences of those events, Dams and Reservoirs are the most efficient solution. That is adaptation. For example, Dams are an essential tool for protecting the populations against the disastrous floods, like those affecting the Czech Republic in 2002 and 2013 with terrible consequences.
Climate change also makes urgent the need to develop clean (carbon-free) energies to meet growing needs for power. Fortunately, solar and wind energies are becoming competitive and will be largely developed, provided there is enough energy storage to compensate for their intermittence. The only solution available today for massive storage at a reasonable price is to use reservoirs associated with pumped power stations. Hydropower is also a clean energy in itself. That is mitigation.
Dam Failure in Laos
The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) is following the situation very closely as information is just coming out about the collapse of the saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Hydroelectric Dam, in Laos.
ICOLD newly elected President Michael Rogers made the following statement:
“Our deepest condolences go out to the people of Laos impacted by this tragedy, especially those families who have lost loved ones and/or their homes.
Dams are critical pieces of not only physical, but also socio-economic infrastructure that supply renewable power, storage for agricultural, industrial, municipal and community water supply. Like other large infrastructure in our societies, dams provide critical service, but also pose high risks that must be addressed during the planning, design and construction phases. The precautionary principle of dams to prevent and/or mitigate adverse downstream safety consequences informs and is at the heart of the ICOLD Mission.
ICOLD has been working for 90 years to promote the safe and sustainable design and construction of dams. As an organization of 100 nations committed to the safety of all dams around the world, ICOLD stands ready to assist and support the project owner and the national dam safety organization in Laos to assess the situation and work towards recovery. Moving forward, it will be important to understand the full cause of this apparent failure so that important lessons may be shared with other nations and dam owners. This is the heart of ICOLD mission and the main reason why it was founded. For example, during its recent Congress in Vienna (July 1-7 2018), ICOLD organized an important open workshop on the lessons learned from the Oroville Spillway Incident (USA, 2017).
Again, our heartfelt condolences go out to the thousands of persons downstream of this dam that have been impacted by this tragedy and ICOLD stands ready to support Laos in any way possible.”