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ICOLD president says environmental responsibility is a top priority

Months into a three-year term as president of the International Commission on Large Dams, Jia Jinsheng told HydroWorld that the evolving field of dam engineering must place environmental issues among the top of its priorities.

ICOLD, founded in 1928, is a non-governmental organization that provides a forum for the exchange of information and expertise pertaining to dam engineering and related topics. Some of the organization’s goals are to ensure that dams are built safely and in an environmentally-friendly manner. The commission includes national committees from more than 80 countries.

“Looking to the future, we will have to be much more sensitive to environmental issues in order to be socially acceptable and environmentally friendly,” said Jinsheng in a recent interview with HydroWorld. He noted that new ideas and practices regarding environmental issues are emerging in many aspects of the field.

Throughout the history of ICOLD, the organization’s aim has shifted to include emerging areas of concern among subjects such as planning, construction, operations and design. Environmental concerns are among the most pressing of current issues, Jinsheng said.

Jinsheng emphasized that ICOLD was set up with one of life’s necessities, water, at the forefront. With that in mind, the organization strives for safety and for dams that are built and operated in environmentally-safe ways, he said.

In some instances, environmentally-sound construction techniques come in the form of using local materials during construction, Jinsheng said.

“Especially in developing countries, you have new, local material dams,” he said. “So, a lot of environmentally-friendly techniques have been (used) to build dams.”

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