Dams and Landslides: A Cautionary Tale of the Risks Associated with Dynamic Dam Construction

Causal relationship found between 2019 Iranian landslide and dam construction, scientists say

In recent years, there has been an increase in dam construction worldwide, driven by the need for water supply and energy generation. However, concerns have been raised about the potential risks associated with building dams, including the increased likelihood of landslides in nearby areas. A recent study conducted by researchers from the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam has shed light on this issue.

According to the study, published in Engineering Geology, there is a clear connection between the filling of a reservoir and a landslide incident that occurred in Hoseynabad-e Kalpush village in Iran. In March 2019, a devastating landslide struck the village, causing severe damage to 300 houses and cutting off access to the nearby dam. Local authorities initially attributed the landslide to heavy rainfall but denied any connection to the dam.

However, satellite data analyzed by researchers at the German Research Centre for Geosciences showed that movement on the slope began shortly after reservoir construction started in 2013. The accumulation of water in the dam raised local water levels, making it easier for water to flow through cracks and crevices in rock formations on hillside soil. This led to reactivation of an ancient landslide that eventually gave way during heavy rainfall in 2019.

The findings underscored how engineers and policymakers need to consider potential risks associated with dam construction, particularly in areas prone to landslides. By understanding these risks, engineers can design safer and more sustainable dams that minimize environmental impacts while meeting energy needs.

In conclusion, while dams are essential for providing water supply and generating energy worldwide, it is crucial to consider potential risks associated with their construction. Engineers and policymakers must take into account how reservoir filling can impact nearby geological structures and implement measures to mitigate risk factors such as landslides. The incident at Hoseynabad-e Kalpush village serves as a cautionary tale highlighting the importance of thorough risk assessment and planning in dam construction projects.

By working towards more sustainable and safe water management practices, we can ensure that our future generations have access to clean drinking water without compromising their safety or well-being.

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