Karen Soo Kee
Strategic resource management has never been more important than it is today with the aging of the “baby boomers” and their ongoing exodus from the workforce. The vacancies they leave in professions such as engineering are just beginning to be felt and will exponentially escalate over the next few years. Specialised professions such as dam engineering and related professions will be hit the hardest as the knowledge and skills learnt over decades are depleted.
The lack of skilled staff and in fact the lack of interest of young engineers in entering the dam industry is one of the critical challenges for today. How do we attract professional staff into the field of dam safety before the exodus creates a “black hole” that can never be filled? And how can we ensure the knowledge transfer from existing skilled staff to newer staff to retain expertise within the industry?
Another issue for resource management is that tomorrow’s workers, the “X &Y generations”, will be unlike the current and previous generations of workers. These workers will be less likely to have a mortgage, will have fewer children and be more interested in lifestyle, not career. They will be extremely confident, well-educated and very mobile. The future will be a sellers market. The challenge here will not only be to attract and recruit talented workers but also to retain them.
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The Requirement for Dam Instrumentation from a Queensland Regulatory Perspective ANCOLD 2006 Conference – Instrumentation and Survey Seminar Page 1 THE REQUIREMENT FOR DAM INSTRUMENTATION FROM A QUEENSLAND REGULATORY PERSPECTIVE Peter Allen, Director Dam Safety (Water Supply) Department of Natural Resources and Water ABSTRACT This paper presents the Queensland dam safety regulator’s views on issues to be considered when designing and implementing instrumentation for referable dams in Queensland. It also summarises the general requirements for dam instrumentation contained in the Queensland Dam Safety Management Guidelines and gives some thoughts on what should be contained in any ANCOLD Instrumentation Guideline.
When undertaking a program of quantitative surveillance of dams the potential to make expensive decisions based on inaccurate and/or inappropriate data always exists. The implementation of a ‘quality’ based system of quantitative surveillance as identified in the ANCOLD Guidelines On Dam Safety Management 2003 can reduce the likelihood of making these inappropriate decisions.
In Austria, special procedures for ensuring dam safety apply to dams higher than 15 m or reservoirs with a capacity of more than 500,000 m³. There are at present about 90 dams which belong to this category. The largest one is the 200 m high Kölnbrein arch dam.
In general, it is the task of the dam owner to provide for the safety of a dam. For that, he has to appoint qualified engineers, the “Dam Safety Engineers”, which are in charge of dam surveillance and maintenance. The Water Authority verifies that the owner makes the necessary provisions for dam safety. Water Authorities are the Provincial Governor and the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. The Water Authorities are supported by a governmental advisory board, the “Austrian Commission on Dams”.
Projects for new dams or for reconstruction of existing dams are examined by the Austrian Commission on Dams. Approval by the Water Authority is based on the findings of this commission. A group of a few experts of the commission accompanies the project during construction, first impounding and the final acceptance procedure. In normal operation, dam attendants carry out visual inspections and measurements. The most important instruments are measured automatically and the data are transmitted to a permanently manned control centre. The Dam Safety Engineer has to inspect the dam at least once a year. His annual report to the Water Authorities must contain an assessment of the safety of the dam. The Federal Dam Supervisory Department of the ministry checks the annual reports and carries out an in-depth inspection of the dam at least every five years.
In the case of extraordinary events, the Dam Safety Engineer has to assess the situation and he has to set appropriate measures. An Emergency Action Plan is available for all dams of the said category.
Ensuring compliance with the Regulator’s requirements is a cornerstone consideration for any water corporation in planning its risk minimisation strategies against dam failure. With the increased focus on due diligence and corporate governance however, there are emerging themes that are of equal importance for a water corporation in planning protections against its core risks to dam safety.
These considerations include:
SunWater manages its portfolio of 29 major dams through 6 business centres each responsible for the Dam Safety Program for the dams under its management control.
The effectiveness of responses during an emergency depends on the amount of planning and training performed. Management must show its support for dam safety programs and the importance of emergency planning.
If management is not interested in community protection and in minimising property loss, little can be done to promote dam safety. It is therefore management’s responsibility to see that a program is instituted and that it is frequently reviewed and updated.
The input and support of all communities must be obtained to ensure an effective program. The emergency response plan should be developed locally and should be comprehensive enough to deal with all types of emergencies specific to that site.
SunWater is a responsible dam owner and has recently upgraded all its emergency action plans in consultation with emergency services of Queensland. This paper details the basic steps to handle emergencies of water infrastructure. These emergencies include inflow floods, rapid drawdown, earthquake, sunny day failure, changes in reservoir water quality and terrorist attacks including hoax.
This paper is intended to assist small dam owners that do not have dam safety programs in place. It is not intended as an all inclusive safety program but rather a provision of guidelines for planning for emergencies.