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Lani van Vuuren 
Prominent experienced and young engineers awarded at SANCOLD conference

Both prominent experienced and young engineers were recognised at this year’s conference of the South African National Committee on Large Dams (SANCOLD), held at Thaba’Nchu from 5 to 7 November, 2013.

More than 230 delegates attended this year’s conference, which had the theme ‘Technology for Water and Water Energy in southern Africa’, including attendees from Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

The highlight of the conference was the presentation of the SANCOLD Award to two prominent dam engineers. The SANCOLD Award is made to prominent person(s) to acknowledge their exceptional contributions to the Committee and/or the dam industry in South Africa.

The first Award went to Dr Chris Oosthuizen, a Specialist Engineer in Dam Safety Surveillance and Rehabilitation at the Department of Water Affairs (DWA). Dr Oosthuizen has been the Approved Professional Person for more than 150 DWA dams since 1986, and has been appointed as the dam safety expert for two arch dams in Switzerland since 2000. He is also involved in the monitoring of the dams of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Dr Oosthuizen presently serves on advisory committees of the universities of Cape Town and South Africa (UNISA) and was an Associate Professor at the Tshwane University of Technology. He is a member of the ECSA Committee on Dams and a member of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) Technical Committee on Dam Surveillance, servicing as Chairman of the latter committee since 2012.

Dr Oosthuizen has been very active in SANCOLD, presenting papers and lectures at a number of conferences and courses. He served for several years on the SANCOLD Management Committee and was Secretary for a number of years.

The second recipient of the SANCOLD Award was Mr Willie Croucamp, which has 44 years of service with DWA. He has headed the Dam Safety Office since its inception to 2003. Mr Croucamp promoted the development of clear guidelines for use by Approved Professional Engineers in the execution of tasks defined in the legislation. He also officiated as assessor of the judicial enquiry on the deaths following the failure of two tailings dams in the late 1990s.

Since 1991, Mr Croucamp has been involved in the oversight over the implementation of large water resources infrastructure projects. For instance, for Phase 1 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project he served as leader of the South African delegation to the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission for seven years, and was intimately involved in decision-making relating to aspects such as engineering, environmental and social impacts and mitigation, funding models, stakeholder relations, dispute resolution and project management. Further, following the release of the report by the World Commission on Dams (WCD) in 2000 he initiated a national dialogue on the guidelines included in the report. He participated in the preparation of a report to assess the extent to which South African legislation conforms to the WCD guidelines. 

Mr Croucamp has been an active member of SANCOLD and ICOLD.  He served on the SANCOLD Management Committee for a number of years and was the team leader for the study tours for the ICOLD Congress held in Durban in 1994. SANCOLD salutes these worthy recipients of the Award.

Further to the Award, SANCOLD has been encouraging the participation of young engineers in the organisation. As an incentive a prize was awarded to the best paper prepared and presented by a young engineer. This year’s recipient was Mfundo Vezi, a student at the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town. He received the award for his paper on ‘Dynamic modelling of arch dams in the ambient state’.

Commenting on the theme of the conference, SANCOLD Chair, Danie Badenhorst, said: “The sustainable development of renewable resources with environmental stewardship is of great importance in Africa as we seek to strengthen and maintain our critical water-supply infrastructure. In South Africa we have 3 500 dams with a height of more than 5 m that deliver a broad array of benefits, including water and power supply, flood risk management, water quality, recreation, sedimentation control and other benefits to the country’s citizens.”

Mr Badenhorst was encouraged by the record attendance at the conference as well as the high quality of papers delivered (47 in total). “The papers delivered at the conference covered a variety of aspects, including planning, hydrology, hydraulics, environmental aspects, geotechnical and structural engineering, as well as dam safety. The high number of attendees and the interesting contributions show that there is a need for SANCOLD, and a need for our regular conferences where we can share dam engineering experiences and knowledge.”

Enquiries: Dr Paul Roberts (Secretary: SANCOLD), Tel: (012) 460-9100, Email: secretary@sancold.org.za


Mr Danie Badenhorst and Dr Chris Oosthuizen Dr Chris Oosthuizen
Mr Danie Badenhorst and Mfundo Vezi
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