International Activities & ICOLD


The CDA is the Canadian National Committee of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), and provides representation at ICOLD meetings and on Technical Committees. CDA’s involvement with ICOLD provides a link between Canadian experience and expertise and international best practice.

ICOLD organizes a meeting and international symposium every year, and a major international congress every 3 years. CDA hosted over 1400 delegates at this event in Ottawa in June 2019. Upcoming ICOLD meetings will be held in the following countries. 

2020 ICOLD Annual Meeting and Symposium – New Delhi, India, November 28-December 3, 2020
Additional information can be found at

2021 ICOLD Annual Meeting and Congress – Marseilles, France, June 4-11, 2021
More information is available at

ICOLD holds a Congress every three years with a focus on four technical questions that address international issues. The attendance is typically 1,000 to 1,500 participants from 60 to 70 countries.

As the Canadian national committee, the Canadian Dam Association (CDA), submits papers to ICOLD for consideration in the program. Selected papers will be published in Transactions of the Congress, along with a General Report summarizing the state of practice. This publication becomes the leading international reference on the topic. Invited authors will make presentations at the Congress. 

The questions to be addressed during the Congress were determined during the 2019 Annual Meeting held in Ottawa. Canadians are invited to share our knowledge and fully participate to this international event.

The schedule for submission of papers for the ICOLD 2021 Congress is :

May 25, 2020 – Abstracts are submitted to CDA;
June 8, 2020 – Authors are notified of acceptance;
August 17, 2020 – Draft papers are submitted to CDA for review;
September 21, 2020 – Final papers are submitted to CDA.

NB: the questions can be downloaded below. 

a/ Innovations for arch dam analysis, design and construction; including RCC arch and arch-gravity dams.
b/ Innovations for design, construction materials and placement methods, flood management during construction and performance of concrete dams, including RCC and cemented material dams.
c/ Innovations for raising existing concrete dams.
d/ Innovations for extremely high concrete dams.
e/ Operational performance of concrete dams during the life cycle, including under extreme conditions.

a/ Recent lessons from incidents and accidents concerning dams during the life cycle, including during construction.
b/ Evaluation of the flows and flood, estimation and quantification of the consequences, including social, economic and environmental aspects, in case of failure or incidents
c/ Emergency planning: regulation, organisation, information of the population and examples of implementation.
d/ Governance of the safety: definition of the responsibilities, periodic reviews, implementation tests, organisation of lessons learned implementation.

a/ Long term performance of existing surveillance systems including reliability and accuracy; importance of visual inspections.
b/ New technologies in dam and foundation instrumentation and monitoring.
c/ Data acquisition and processing to evaluate the behavior of dams, predict and identify incidents.
d/ Understanding and handling of large quantity of data, including artificial intelligence approach.

a/ Impacts of climatic change on existing dams and reservoirs and remedies; case studies and costs.
b/ Impacts of climatic change on needs and designs of dams, reservoirs and levees (water storage, floods mitigation, oceans raising…).
c/ Favourable impacts of dams on climatic change, including greenhouse gases reduction by optimisation of hydroelectric production. Needs, potential and cost of energy pumped storage.
d/ Unfavourable impacts of dams and reservoirs on climatic change: evaluation of greenhouse gases emissions by reservoirs and dam construction.

How to submit an abstract for the CONGRESS
Please follow the instructions below:

  1. Title in English AND in French: Make the title of the abstract brief, clearly indicating the nature of the proposed subject.
  2. Names of the authors: Submit the full given name(s) and the family name. Do not include degrees or professional titles.
  3. Abstracts can be in English or French and should be no longer than 200 words.
  4. Please send the abstract to

Should you have any questions about submitting an abstract for the 2021 Congress, please contact CDA’s Director-at-Large for ICOLD, Michel Tremblay, at

2021 ICOLD Questions
(Adobe PDF File)

The annual ICOLD event is the venue for meetings of Technical Committees that are at the heart of the organization’s mission. The meetings are open to all delegates to the Symposium or Congress. ICOLD Technical Committees publish Bulletins on various topics of interest to dam owners, engineers and scientists. CDA members participate on many ICOLD committees. The Technical Bulletins are available free for download by CDA members. ICOLD also offers Bulletins in hard-copy and on CD for sale through its website.

During the development of ICOLD Bulletins, draft ICOLD Bulletins are issued for review and comment by the National Committees (CDA is the |National Committee for Canada). They are posted on the CDA members-only International Committee page. 

CDA’s participation in ICOLD is coordinated by an elected Director at Large, who chairs the CDA International Committee. If you are interested in helping provide a Canadian perspective on an ICOLD Technical Committee, please email the Director at Large – ICOLD

ICOLD was founded in 1928 and has National Committees from over 100 countries. ICOLD provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in dam engineering. ICOLD’s mission is to lead the profession in setting standards and guidelines to ensure that dams are built and operated safely, efficiently, economically and are environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. See for more information.

International Business Development (IBD) for Canadian companies

CDA has recently embarked on activities to strengthen the ability of Canadian companies in the dam industry to compete internationally. The CDA International Business Development (IBD) webpage is available here. If you have questions or wish to participate in international business development opportunities, please e-mail the IBD Working Group at