IHA releases guide on the safety of hydropower infrastructure

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To help developers and operators manage the impacts of hydropower development, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) has published a How-to Guide on Hydropower Infrastructure Safety.

Hydropower infrastructure can have significant implications for public and environmental safety, and it is important to ensure any opportunities and risks are managed effectively throughout a project’s life cycle.

“Dam safety issues are a significant risk for any developer or operator,” said João Costa, head of sustainability at IHA. “This new guide will help these key players better understand the potential safety impacts of their dams in order to protect the people in their catchment area, their assets and the local environment.”

Maria Güell i Pons, dam specialist at the World Bank, said: “We see increasing investments in the construction and refurbishment of hydropower dams to face climate change. A key element in ensuring the long-term resilience of such large infrastructures under changing conditions is to guarantee good maintenance, monitoring and emergency plans throughout the project life cycle. This guide published by IHA will provide project developers and operators with tools to deliver good international industry practice to guarantee public and environmental safety.”

The How-to Guide on Infrastructure Safety explores potential hazards, exposure, vulnerability, risks and dam safety in relation to public safety, legal and regulatory frameworks and bank requirements, to ensure safety and help projects to reach good international industry practice. Additionally, the guide gives an overview of the benefits that hydropower infrastructure can provide in areas like water management, drought avoidance, mitigation against wildfires and improvement to public infrastructure such as roads.

“This How-to Guide provides decision makers with a process for understanding and managing safety risks and opportunities that facilitates community and project acceptance and mitigates project risks,” said Margaret Trias, independent consultant and co-author of the guide. “The guide addresses dam safety in particular, but also covers other aspects of infrastructure safety inherent to hydropower projects – and links infrastructure safety to a broader sustainability framework”

The How-to Guide on Infrastructure Safety is based on the internationally recognized Hydropower Sustainability Tools, IHA said.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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