Invitation from the Minister of Agriculture of the Czech Republic

Dear ladies and gentlemen, 

For the first time in its more than eighty-year history, the Annual Meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) is taking place in the Czech Republic this year.

The Czech Republic, as the hosting country of the forum of dam engineers from all over the world, has a long history of the construction and operation of dams and reservoirs. The historical roots of the design and construction of purpose-built water reservoirs go back to as early as the Middle Ages, the 13th century, when the building of major ponds started, and extensive systems of pond reservoirs were successively completed to be in operation till the present day. 

The historical need for water storage in reservoirs naturally resulted and still results from the fact that practically all water precipitates on the territory of the Czech Republic flows away to the neighbouring states, so that unless the discharged volumes are retained on condition of abundant rainfall, the water resources may be short of them to overcome drought periods.The skills of dam builders and water managers of that time have been confirmed not only by several hundred years of successful operation of self-contained reservoirs and pond systems, but also by the coexistence of numerous historic ponds with the surrounding environment in regions which are presently conserved as nature reserves and protected nature areas. These facts further stress the importance of water reservoirs and their irreplaceable function in the natural environment, particularly to provide water resources as the sources of water available in the Czech Republic per person are rated as the third lowest in Europe (after Malta and Cyprus). 

Modern dam building of the last 120 years has systematically followed the requirements of the developing landscape and inhabitants for satisfying the needs for water. Over one hundred significant multipurpose reservoirs have been built on the territory of the Czech Republic fulfilling, with some reserve, the demands for water supply for the population, industry and agriculture. The reservoirs have also significantly and irreplaceably participated in meeting the needs for energy and have been playing an increasingly important role in the protection of landscape from floods. 

The current manifestations of nature worldwide make experts seek answers to questions of how to attain water management stability in all contexts, from meeting the needs of individuals to supporting development strategies of states and supranational units. Seeking solutions will be the subject of the technical activity of water managers and, to some extent, dam engineers as well. The enhancement of the operation and meaningful designs of dams in today’s globalized world must be based on the exchange of international experience and on international cooperation.  

Since its establishment in 1928 with Czechoslovakia among the founding members, the International Commission on Large Dams has set a perfect example of technical cooperation of experts in the area of the design, construction and operation of dams. On the occasion of the forthcoming 85th Annual Meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams, I wish you a lot of determination and enthusiasm for further development of your useful cooperation. 

I cordially invite you and your friends and family members to Prague and wish you many stimulating professional and personal experiences. 

Marian Jurečka
Minister of Agriculture