Upcoming Events



February 2021 Technical Meeting: Learning from Historic Irrigation and Drainage Structures

3pm Friday, 19th February 2021, Virtual Event

The past has much to teach us about the present and the future.  The rapid changes that are taking place around the world caution us to learn from history.  This is as true in irrigation and drainage as in most other walks of life.  The ICID Working Group on History of Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control documents the history of irrigation, drainage, flood management, and river engineering, incorporating relevant agricultural, political, socio-economic, climatologic and geographic aspects for proper understanding of technological developments.  The Working Group is currently compiling a book on “Water Sustainability through History”.

irrig historyIn this meeting, the work of the ICID Working Group on History of Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control will be presented and the importance of understanding the history of water management at specific locations will be highlighted by considering the histories of two irrigation and drainage systems, one in Italy and one in Britain, to show what learning their histories provide for present and future water managers.

Register in advance to join here.  

Programme and speakers include:

Past Wisdom for Future Challenges

  • Speaker: Dr Kamran Emami; Vice President, ICID and Managing Director, Kurit Kara Consulting Engineers, Tehran

At the start of the 21st century, humankind established itself on a non-sustainable course – a course that, unless corrected, will lead to catastrophes and awesome consequences. The water wisdom of the past, which was achieved over a period of hundreds of years, can be regarded as a unique and irreplaceable gift from our ancestors to this generation facing the great challenge of ensuring sustainable development. Dr Emami will discus research undertaken by the members of ICID Working Group WG-HIST on Historical Water Sustainability in 15 countries, and lessons to be learnt:

  1. Humankind can achieve the unthinkable as many outstanding and great sustainable projects in several countries illustrate.
  2. Striking a balance between Construction vs. Operation investments is the key to sustainability.
  3. To cope with inherent uncertainties of water engineering, monitoring and adaptations are essential requirements.
  4. Creativity is a must when dealing with very different adverse conditions.
  5. Renewable Energy is one of the most important pillars of sustainability.
  6. Appropriate and adaptable rules and regulations are extremely important and vital.
  7. The importance of technology transfer has been illustrated by many case studies.
  8. Non -Structural Aspects can be more effective and efficient than structural measures in many projects and can play a key role in almost all water projects.

And there are many more lessons to be learned and shared from WATER WISDOM of the PAST!

Aqua Augusta: A System of Aqueducts from the First Century B.C. serving the Roman Empire

  • Speaker: Dr Marco Arcieri; Crop Systems, Forestry & Environmental Sciences, ICID, Central Office, New Delhi

The Aqua Augusta is a complex system of aqueducts conceived under the rule of the Roman Emperor Augusto. 145 km long, including secondary canals, it was built during the second half of the First Century B.C. in order to collect waters flowing from the Serino river springs in Campania region (Southern Italy), near Benevento and convey them, mostly underground, to the several towns scattered along the Gulf of Naples for drinking, irrigation and sanitation purposes. These were ranging from Pompeii and Baia, where many important roman villas were located, to Naples and all the way down to the military harbour of Misenum, a very important and a strategic naval base of the Empire as the largest Roman fleet, at that time, was docked there. The final destination of this sophisticated system of canals, underground conduits and bridges, essentially built to supply drinking water and ensure food security to the vast population of the area, was a huge cistern-reservoir known as the “Piscina Mirabilis” (magnificent pool) with a storage capacity of more than 12,000 m3 and thus capable of ensuring a water supply service for more than two weeks in case of suspension of delivery, to the more than 30,000 people living at that time in the naval base and serving the Roman Empire fleet. Along with an overall description of the system, the presentation will deal with the advanced technical solutions provided by the aqueduct and, particularly, it will describe the distribution of water in ancient Pompeii.

Water Management in the Fens – the History, Challenges and Opportunities

  • Speakers: Abigail Jackson; Effectiveness Initiative Lead, Lincolnshire & Northamptonshire Area, Environment Agency
  • And Peter Bateson: Chief Executive, Witham Fourth District Internal Drainage Board

The fenlands of Lincolnshire have a rich and varied history of land drainage. From the canalisation of wetlands to the successive creation of sea banks for coastal land reclamation, for centuries the county has drained land for the agricultural economy. This engineered approach to water management, particularly before mechanisation of the process, is still evident in the structures we see in the fens today through impressive structures such as Black Sluice Pumping Station in Boston.

The resultant high-grade agricultural land has long been valued by the nation, but with a changing climate and ever-increasing pressures of urbanisation, there is a need for a step change in how we manage water. These drainage systems, designed for a different era, may no longer be effective, efficient or sustainable in some areas today. Partnership working is key to securing multiple benefits for water management, from mitigating flood risk to water storage during droughts. The EA and Internal Drainage Boards are developing joint strategies to tackle this water challenge in South Lincolnshire. Key schemes include the Wrangle Sea Banks project and South Lincolnshire Water Partnership. These are major steps in ensuring a coordinated, resilient and beneficial approach to water management in the Lincolnshire Fens.

Gerald Lacey Lecture 2021: Water, Food Security and the Global Goals

Originally planned for as our 2020 Gerald Lacey Lecture, but postponed to May 2021

Institution of Civil Engineers, Westminster, London – and online 

UN-Water reports that one-fifth of the world’s population currently live in areas of water scarcity while two thirds experience water scarcity for at least one month a year. All economic sectors use this resource, which is vital for life on our planet and for our planet’s ecosystems. The competition for water is on the rise, driven by demographics, economic growth, and changing lifestyles and diets, all further stressed by climate change. With this in the background, we estimate a 50% increase in global food demand by 2050.

The global community has made commitments and established targets towards securing water for all and ending hunger, as part of an interconnected set of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A few months ago, the SDG Summit held at the UN headquarters in New York concluded that the world was off track in achieving the SDGs, including the targets of SDG2 ‘zero hunger’ and SDG6 ‘water and sanitation for all’. An action decade is now in effect and acceleration frameworks and actions are being announced.

The speaker will illustrate the linkages between the key goals, provide examples from combined outcome of these linkages on selected scenarios towards food security, and what the accelerators for water may look like.

About the Speaker

Our 2021 Gerald Lacey Lecture will be delivered by Mr. Olcay Unver. Olcay is the Deputy-Director of the Land and Water Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) since September 2013 and UN-Water Vice-Chair since August 2018.

Between 2007 and 2013, he served as Coordinator of the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme. Prior to that, he was a distinguished professor of water resources at Kent State University, Ohio, USA, and President of the GAP project in Turkey.

Mr. Ünver holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (water resources planning and management) from the University of Texas, Austin and a Masters (hydraulics) and Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

Mekong River Basin

November 2021, Institution of Civil Engineers, Westminster, London – and online

Originally planned as our November 2020 meeting, we have decided to postpone this meeting until 2021 to allow us to hold it as a physical meeting. More details to follow.