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.
Chairman of ANCOLD Inc.