Capacity building and training: Education, training and capacity building in the light of recent dam incidences

Gerald Zenz, Edwin Josef Staudacher, Helmut Knoblauch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Our existing dams provide – based on the safety assessment of their performance - a valuable resource for design and construction of new dams. Together with research in engineering of hydraulic structures, an improving knowledge for dam design, construction and operation is made available to our community. Especially during the safety assessment process, valuable experience is gained and should be used for the design of new dams. This development has a great impact on design regulations and dam safety aspects during operation.
The education at our Institutions faces the challenge to transfer the condensed know how to the next generation of our students and engineers as part of capacity building. However, in a society of increasing specialized knowledge and research, the general combining engineering overview about the entire system performance must not be lost.
In the light of recent incidences of dams and appurtenant structures, e.g. Oroville, Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy, Feijão, it is evident that always a mixture of different causalities caused the incidences. Finally, basic engineering principles have not been accounted for and the focus were laid on minor relevant aspects or neglected at all. Additionally, the managerial structure and responsibilities to guarantee the safety of the dams did not follow engineering standards and criteria communicated within ICOLD as well as their national committees.
Therefor it is on the one hand site the responsibility of the investor and the owner to provide capable, independent supervision of the structures and additionally it requires a competent and strong authority to force the execution of necessary measures.
The knowledge for safe and responsible operation of dams is available within ICOLD and their technical working groups. It is up to us to use and disseminate this knowledge for better dams in a better world.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Education
  • Safety Research

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems

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