Sustainable dam planning and operations: reflections on innovative international practices

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Large dams provide important socioeconomic benefits but also have negative impacts. New approaches for dam planning and operations that optimize benefits across a range of values are required to achieve more sustainable outcomes. In 2010 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization sponsored an international workshop 'Challenges and Solutions for Planning and Operating Dams for Optimised Benefits'. This paper outlines lessons from innovative practices presented at that workshop, drawing on case studies where sustainable approaches have been identified or implemented. The key lessons were 1) sustainable dam planning and operations is achievable, with win-win outcomes for society and the environment, 2) the best solutions occur at the scale of systems or catchments, 3) close collaboration between participating organisations and stakeholders is essential for successful outcomes. To achieve this there is a need for more investment in trials, demonstration sites and mechanisms to share knowledge and encourage broader adoption of these practices. Dams around the world give rise to similar impacts and management issues. Sharing experiences will help us adapt to changing conditions precipitated by climate change and increasing human population. Many of the lessons from the UNESCO workshop could be implemented in Australia to achieve more sustainable dam operations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication6th Australian Stream Management Conference
Subtitle of host publicationManaging for extremes
EditorsJ.R. Grove, I.D. Rutherfurd
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherRiver Basin Management Society
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event6th Australian Stream Management Conference - National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 06 Feb 201208 Feb 2012 (Conference proceedings)


Conference6th Australian Stream Management Conference
Abbreviated titleManaging for extremes
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