Every organization has some responsibility for recording the history both of itself and of the industry in which operates, and the Australian National Committee on Large Dams Inc. (ANCOLD) is no exception.
In 1998 ANCOLD published The ANCOLD Story 1937–1995 which sets out its own history including its origins, development, activities and publications over almost 60 years.
A second book, Dam Technology in Australia 1850–1999, was produced in 2000. That volume presents the developments in Australian dam engineering for six different types of dams, as Australian dam engineers played their part in the innovations and improvements in the art of dam building taking place all around the world.
As you will see, the present book looks at Australia’s sometimes desperate need for water and how those needs were met progressively by building over 500 large dams. A major proportion of these dams were designed and constructed by government authorities, and the book outlines the history of these authorities in each state and territory.
The latter two books had their origins in the Heritage Dams Project, ably led by Tony Moulds and carried out jointly by ANCOLD and the Institution of Engineers, Australia, with financial assistance from the National Estate Grants Program. The project resulted in the identification and nomination of 26 dams for listing on the Register of the National Estate. In addition several experienced dam engineers wrote six historical summaries describing the technological advances in dam building over the last 150 years. These summaries formed the basis for the Dam Technology volume cited above.
At the same time the present author wrote a non-technical historical overview for the project, and that account has provided much of the text for this book. When publication was proposed, several ANCOLD members carried out a full review and made constructive suggestions, including the need for an early chapter explaining the dam building challenge to the general reader. Many members have subsequently responded to appeals for photographs to illustrate the text. Despite the pressures of heavy workloads, the spirit of voluntary cooperation and assistance is still very much alive in our organization.
For its part the Institution of Engineers, Australia has recognized the engineering heritage significance of particular dams under its Australian historic engineering plaques program. Most of the dams already nominated for listing on the Register of the National Estate have been awarded either a National Engineering Landmark or an Historic Engineering Marker. These awards take the form of attractive bronze plaques conspicuously placed at visitor viewing areas at the dams.
Details of all the large dams in Australia are recorded in ANCOLD’s Register of Large Dams in Australia which is updated periodically and can be downloaded from the website www.ancold.org.au. The book relies heavily on the Register for its tabulated data, and I express ANCOLD’s debt of gratitude to Bob Wark of Western Australia who, with our state representatives, has maintained the Register for more than 20 years.
Starting in colonial times, this book unveils the history of dam building in Australia, an important facet of our country’s survival and development. On behalf of ANCOLD, I congratulate the author on putting this significant story together and for managing its publication, thereby bringing the Heritage Dams Project to a useful conclusion.
Chairman of ANCOLD Inc.
ANCOLD is an incorporated voluntary association of organisations and individual professionals with an interest in dams in Australia.