Dam Technology in Australia 1850 – 1999 (edited by Bruce Cole)


It is timely that at the  start of a new century, we look back over  150 years of dam  construction in Australia,  a period  in which  almost 500 large  dams  have  been  completed. ANCOLD’s  first venture into  the history of dams  occurred in  1966 when Nimmo’s article ‘Historical Review of Dams  in Australia’ was published in ANCOLD Bulletin no. 18. His review and his list of references have been  of great  value to the authors of this book.

This  history of dam  technology in Australia had its genesis in 1995 when the  Institution of Engineers National Committee on Engineering Heritage obtained a grant from the National Estate  Grants Program in  order to carry out  ‘A review  of major dams  in Australia’.  ANCOLD was a co-sponsor of this project (the Heritage Dams Project)  from  the outset,  and  many of its members  became  heavily  involved in carrying out the various aspects of the work, often on a voluntary basis.

The  review had two main objectives.  One was to identify dams with high  heritage values and  to nominate them for listing on the  Register of the National Estate. This  task  involved many dam  owners,  engineers  and  others in  every State,  and culminated with  the delivery of 26 dam nominations to the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC) in February 1999.

The  second objective was  to prepare historical summaries  of the development of  dam technology for the different types  of dam  in Australia,  namely  gravity  dams,  arch  dams, earthfill dams  and  rockfill dams. All the authors  and  the editor were  ANCOLD members.  In the process  of writing,  the  proposed  rockfill dam summary  was split into concrete face and earth core rockfill dams,  and additional sections on buttress  dams  and flood estimation were prepared. The completed work was handed to the AHC in February  1999 and the final report in June  1999.

All this material was entered on the AHC database but there were no plans  for publication.

At the 1998 ANCOLD Conference it was agreed that  these summaries formed  a sound basis for a history of dam technology. Accordingly, the draft text was distributed to 18 members for peer review and comment. As a result of the comments received, two additional  chapters were written, one on spillways and one on surveillance and safety of dams. When  this was reported to the 1999 ANCOLD Conference, approval  in  principle for a dam  history publication  was agreed.  The next  stage was to canvass  members to find appropriate photographs to illustrate the  text,  to prepare a cost estimate and  to gain approval from the Executive  Committee. The Committee gave its  approval  in April  2000 and requested that the book be available for the 2000 ANCOLD Conference on Dams.

ANCOLD  congratulates  the   authors  for  their valuable   contributions  to  this  landmark volume,  and  thanks  the  editor Bruce Cole whose  enthusiasm and perseverance  have  transformed the historical  summaries  into an excellent illustrated book.

Adrian  Williams

Chairman of ANCOLD Inc.

August  2000

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