ANCOLD 2022 Dam Operators Forum Wrap Up

by Tom Ridgway

Tom Ridgway

2022 Dam Operators Forum Convenor

ANCOLD held their 2022 Dam Operators Forum in Strathgordon Tasmania. The forum, the first since 2019 due to COVID restrictions, was held in the picturesque and remote Pedder Wilderness Lodge and bought together 76 delegates including operators from across the country as well as engineering specialists and suppliers from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America.

The forum began, albeit informally with a long snow laden drive to Strathgordon where the real fun began. Following an excellent and informative keynote address from the ANCOLD Chair, Michel Raymond, the sessions began by looking at some of the industries most recent challenges in both forecasting and the management of large flood events as seen across Queensland and New South Wales earlier in the year.

The second session took an in depth look at operational challenges faced across Australia with respect to water retaining structures of all types. This session delved into a variety of topics from industry operator training expectations, operational and asset management requirements for a variety structure types to interesting presentations regarding challenges faced both in the maintenance and day to day monitoring and workload of operators in the industry.

Following a large buffet dinner the night before, the second day started with a site visit to both Gordon Dam, and to the underground station, approximately 200m below ground level. Both the dam and station were truly breathtaking with operators from both the station and the dam on hand to answer all questions from the way in which Hydro Tasmania manage their electricity generation to the difficulties in monitoring and maintaining the largest double curvature arch dam in Australia.

The second round of sessions for forum kicked off in true engineering style with an expertly delivered keynote address from Wayne Peck from the Seismic Research Centre (SRC). Wayne’s address provided an excellent background on earthquake assessments and the response and impact of the 2021 Woods Point Earthquake. Following the keynote address, the first session of the day comprised of discussions on the importance of instrumentation and current application kicked of with a variety of speakers from different backgrounds and industries. The last session of the forum included discussions regarding the installation, testing and maintenance of anchors with discussions ranging from the small anchors to the largest anchors ever installed at a dam.

Once all the formalities were over, the fun could begin with an amazing three course meal and trivia night delivered between meals which had everyone laughing and created an excellent and relaxing atmosphere.

The final day of the forum started with a full buffet breakfast and was followed by a tour of the Meadowbank Dam and PowerStation before the forum made its way back to Hobart.

The success of these types of events can be measured in a number of ways, but, as mentioned by one of this year’s presenters, the key success lay in the strong sense of community seen across the delegates. As seen from the variety of delegates from different organisations, levels, and professions talking, sharing war stories, and learning from one another. It is, without a doubt, this sense of community that really makes our dams industry one of the best to work in. based on the success of the forum, and the cross-collaboration seen throughout the event, we hope the event can be used as a springboard for many more successful forums in the future.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not mention and thank all speakers and delivery partners for their tireless efforts in delivering the forum. Both Leishman Associates and Pedder Wilderness Lodge did an amazing job in managing and catering to all our needs and should be highly commended on their level of professionalism. Thank to Hydro Tasmania for opening their sites to the delegates and answering all their questions. Finally, a big thank you to all presenters, the effort that went into the presentations was greatly appreciated and very well received by all delegates.

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