ANCOLD 2023 Dam Operators Forum

by Paul Beard

Paul Beard

2023 Dam Operators Forum Convenor


The ANCOLD Dam Operators Forum, held in Bendigo from September 15th to 17th brought together 102 dam operators.

Attendees represented a wide range of stakeholders, with participants hailing from different industries, organisations, and government bodies.

The forum was designed as a platform for operators to share their experiences and insights. The primary goal was to foster knowledge sharing, enhance water dam knowledge, and expand professional networks.


The forum centred around two key themes: flood management and technology innovations.

Keynote speakers included:

  • Geoffrey Swanton, Manager Waterway Safety and Compliance at Safe Transport Victoria, who shared two decades-plus of insights in waterway safety, regulation, compliance, and navigational safety, including dealing with regulatory responses to floods.
  • Tim Wiebusch, Chief Officer Operations at Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), shared his nearly 30 years of experience in the emergency management sector. His expertise in large-scale, multi-agency operations, emergency management reviews, and reforms added a wealth of knowledge to the forum.
  • Justin Robinson, Team Leader at the National Flood Operations of the Bureau of Meteorology, who has three decades of hydrology experience, discussed his work in operational flood forecasting and flood warning services, providing critical insights into managing and mitigating flood-related challenges.

The forum also featured several technical presentations.

Val Gardener from Worthington Products delivered a presentation on barrier products designed to control debris at dam structures and hydroelectric intakes. The presentation prompted operators to re-evaluate their storage barrier protection strategies.

Complex Co’s Lach Haskins shared insights about Scrivener Dam at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Complex is responsible for the operation and maintenance of this distinctive structure.

The speakers took questions from the audience after their presentations. This interactive approach proved highly successful, fostering engaging, enthusiastic and interesting discussions.

Tours and networking

Attendees also had the opportunity to tour sites including Cairn Curran Reservoir, Crusoe Reservoir, Lake Eppalock, and Lauriston Reservoir in central Victoria. A gala dinner held at Chateau Dore, near Bendigo, provided more opportunities for networking.

Feedback and future plans

The forum fostered an environment for knowledge sharing, camaraderie, and a shared passion for dam operations, making it an unforgettable experience.

The feedback received so far from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive. We encourage further feedback to help plan for future events and thank everyone for their involvement and participation.

Report: Forum convenor and Goulburn-Murray Water’s Manager Storage Operations, South Water Storage Services, Paul Beard

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