ICOLD 75th Annual Meeting: Focus on Dam Development and Safety

By Alexander N. Semenov

Members of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) meet in June in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the organization’s annual event. In addition to its business meeting, ICOLD will focus on the topics of dam development and dam safety during six days of workshops, symposiums, and visits to dam sites.

On June 24-29, 2007, members of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) convene in St. Petersburg, Russia, to exchange information about the latest advances in dam development and safety.

In Russia, the host country for the ICOLD 75th Annual Meeting, more than 110 dams impound water for irrigation, electricity generation, and water supply. More than a dozen dams are under construction, and at least 20 more are being studied or designed.

Exchanging technical information

Opportunities to exchange and disseminate technical information at the ICOLD 75th annual meeting include:

  • Exhibition of dam-related services and products
  • Workshop on dams and hydropower in Russia
  • Symposium on dam safety management
  • Technical tours of several dams and hydro plants
  • 75th ICOLD Executive Meeting
  • Meetings of ICOLD’s 24 technical committees

One of these committees, Computational Aspects of Analysis and Design of Dams, is holding a benchmark workshop immediately preceding the annual meeting. The purpose of this Ninth International Benchmark Workshop is to provide a critical examination of the computational methods and software used for dam analysis. Organizers are to present specific problems related to concrete and embankment dams, and participants are to provide suggested solutions. The solutions will be comparatively evaluated during the workshop. The objective is to find the most appropriate computational approach for each specific problem.


The exhibition of products and services is open Monday, June 25, through Wednesday, June 27. The exhibition is an opportunity to network with engineers, professionals, organizations, and companies connected with the design, maintenance, and management of dams. Products and services to be showcased during the technical exhibition include water resources management, construction, maintenance, engineering, power plant design, and project finance.


On Monday, June 25, a workshop on dams and hydropower engineering in countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) covers current problems of designing, financing, constructing, and operating dams. CIS countries include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. The chairman of the workshop is Alexander Assarin, Prof. Dr.S., of the Institute Hydroproject in Moscow. Presentations from all CIS countries are expected.


Wednesday, June 27, features a symposium on dam safety management. The theme is “Dam safety management – Role of state, private companies and public in designing, constructing and operating large dams.” About 250 papers submitted for the symposium focus on four areas:

  • Large dams’ role for society and management methods
  • Financial and economic aspects
  • Large dams’ safety management
  • Technical policy to ensure large dams’ safety

Technical tours

Thursday, June 28, features a technical tour of the St. Petersburg flood protection facilities, now under construction. These facilities – which include 11 earthfill dams, two navigable constructions for passing large-capacity sea vessels and river boats, and six culverts – are designed to protect the city from floods occurring as a result of rising waters in the Neva River.

Beginning Friday, June 29, several delegates will take part in multi-day technical tours.

Tour 1, June 29-July 5, features hydroelectric generating systems on the upper Volga River, the longest river in Europe. The hydropower generating systems on this river and its largest tributary, Kama River, provide about 114 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Hydro facilities include 30-mw Ivankovo, 110-mw Uglich, 346-mw Rybinsk, and 520-mw Nizhegorodskaya.

Tour 2, June 30-July 5, visits other Volga River hydroelectric generating systems. These include 2,541-mw Volzhskaya, 1,360-mw Saratov, and 2,300-mw Zhigulevskaya.

Tour 3, June 30-July 4, features hydroelectric systems on the Yenisei River. Plants featured include 6,000-mw Krasnoyarsk and 6,400-mw Sayano-Shushenskaya, the two largest hydro facilities in Russia. The tour also visits 321-mw Mainskaya.

Tour 4, June 29-July 3, is of the hydroelectric stations on the Angara River. These include 662.4-mw Irkutsk, 4,500-mw Bratsk, and 3,840-mw Ust-Ilim.

The 4,500-mw Bratsk Dam on the Angara River is one of more than 100 dams in Russia that impound water for electricity generation.
Click here to enlarge image

Tour 5, June 29-June 30, features a visit to the 1,200-mw Zagorsk pumped-storage facility north of Moscow.

Technical committees, executive meeting

ICOLD’s 24 technical committees meet Tuesday, June 26. At these meetings, more than 300 dam professionals discuss various topics that could lead to the publication of future specialized technical bulletins.

Friday, June 29, is the 75th ICOLD Executive Meeting, at which the 85 member countries of ICOLD develop the policies and processes to be implemented over the next few years.

Water resources in Russia

Russia possesses the greatest reserves of fresh water on the planet, with an estimated total volume of about 60,000 cubic kilometers. Because of this, the country has a hydroelectric power potential of approximately 852 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh). Only about a fifth of this potential has been developed.

The country also has extremely diverse topography, with mountains concentrated in the east and mainly plains in the western and central regions. Climatic conditions also vary considerably, with a favorable climate in the southwest and a more severe climate in the east and north regions.

Because of the mountainous terrain in the east, more than 70 percent of the annual river runoff occurs in this area. However, the population is concentrated on the other side of the country, which receives only about 8 percent of the annual river runoff.

With the challenges of an immense territory (17.1 million square kilometers) and the diversity of the topography and climate, designers, surveyors, and researchers must solve many complicated scientific and engineering problems associated with implementation of large-scale hydropower development. These include: construction of dams on large plain rivers with soft soil foundation and high flows, and construction of various types of dams as high as 300 meters in areas of high seismic intensity. Participants at the 75th Annual Meeting of ICOLD have the opportunity to interact and learn from the experiences of these Russian dam engineers.


Russia has more than 54,400 mw of operating hydropower. The primary owner/operator of these stations is HydroOGK, owned by the state utility monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES). HydroOGK is the largest hydro generating company in Europe.

A priority of HydroOGK’s is to improve its existing fleet of stations and optimize their use. An example is the 160-mw Zelenchukskaya project. In December 2006, the utility completed the third phase of the project, on the Kuban River in Karachay-Cherkessia Republic. The project features two 80-mw turbines, one installed in 1999 and the other in 2002. This third phase involved construction of 30 kilometers of tunnels and channels to supply more water to the project from mountain rivers. The result is an increase in generation without installing additional equipment.

In addition to optimizing production at existing stations, HydroOGK is actively developing new projects. For example, the utility recently ordered nine turbines for the 3,000-mw Boguchanskaya project on the Angara River. The project is to be complete in 2013. And, in early 2007, HydroOGK announced plans for development of the 8,500-mw Yuzhno-Yakutsk complex and of the Nizhnye-Zeyskaya and Nizhnye-Bureyskaya stations, with combined installed capacity of 600 mw.

Alexander Semenov is chairman of the Russian National Committee on Large Dams, which is organizing the 75th annual meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams.

Mr. Semenov may be reached at Russian Committee on Large Dams, 7, Kitaigorodskyi Proesd, Moscow, 109074 Russia; (7) 495-1580791; E-mail: snghydro@post.ru.


Previous articleHRW Volume 15 Issue 3
Next articleSri Lanka wins more funds for renewables program including hydro

No posts to display