ments.) She starts by having the team
thoroughly research the history of
the dam, other structures within the
waterway and any restoration efforts
already underway in the surrounding ecosystem and community. She
also identifies any possible environmental factors that could impact the
removal process, from silt behind
the dam to pollutants upstream. A
full understanding of the history and
environmental conditions is crucial
to avoiding problems, like seasonal
weather conditions shutting out
But even with proper planning, a
number of factors can trigger delays,
Ms. Hollingsworth-Segedy adds.
These can include problems with
funding, documenting nearby endangered species and obtaining permits
required by regulatory agencies.
The People Side
One stakeholder project managers
shouldn’t underestimate during the
planning phase is the public, says
“You’ve got to provide information and hold
and attend public meetings,” Dr. Hughes says, not-
ing that formal planning and approval processes
vary from country to country. “You’ve got to
DECEMBER 2016 PM NETWORK 7
Hydropower: Still in Demand
As dams come down in some parts of the world, they’re going up in others. Here
are three of the largest projects underway or recently completed—all touted to
boost power supplies in developing countries.
Location: Inga Falls waterfall, Democratic
Republic of Congo
Budget: US$80 billion-US$100 billion
Why: The dam is projected to generate 40,000
megawatts of electricity—the equivalent of 20
large nuclear reactors.
Challenge: Public opinion. The project has come
under fire from conservation and human rights groups concerned that the dam is
being built without proper environmental surveys and will displace 60,000 people.
Location: Siquirres, Costa Rica
Budget: US$1.4 billion
Why: This 130-meter (427-foot)-high dam,
completed in September, is projected to generate
305.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power
Challenge: Environmental impact. Reservoirs
created could interrupt animal and fish migration patterns, reducing biodiversity.
To mitigate the issue, the Costa Rican government worked with conservation
groups to design the dam in environmentally friendly ways.
GRAND ETHIOPIAN RENAISSANCE DAM
Location: Blue Nile River, Ethiopia
Budget: US$4 billion-US$5 billion
Why: The 170-meter (558-foot)-tall dam is
projected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of
power, more than tripling Ethiopia’s electricity
Challenge: Design. International teams of engineering and hydrology experts have questioned the ability of dam design plans to
mitigate safety and environmental risks.
engage the public all the way through,” even during
early initial surveying periods when project managers are still defining the scope.
“As engineers and project managers, we often
don’t deal with the public particularly well. We
come over as engineers rather than human beings,”
he says. “Engaging with the public, I think, is a
thing engineers have to learn.” —Christina Couch