To the editor:
I second Allan Breitenbach’s comments about ICOLD underreporting the number of large GSS [geomembrane sealing system] dams—more than 20m high—in its 2010 Bulletin. Allan and I recently researched a paper (to be published in a pending issue of Mining Engineering magazine) of impounding valley leach facilities and found at least 12 meeting ICOLD standards for high dams, two of which were cited in Allan’s letter and the highest being 95m. None of these are listed in that ICOLD Bulletin. I personally know of another 10 large GSS dams in South America, three in Mexico and two in Turkey. Allan cited five in Nevada alone. Thus we have at least 32 large GSS dams not reported by ICOLD, and that is from the personal experience of only two engineers.
The evidence that ICOLD is underreporting large GSS dams is persuasive. The question that remains is how do we correct this omission? Perhaps Geosyntethetics can call for submissions of previously unreported facilities and then compile those into an industry response to ICOLD? I would volunteer, with a little help from Allan, to document the 32 I’ve mentioned herein as a kick-start to that venture.
Mark E. Smith, P.E.
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