Dams and reservoirs were under intensive discussion in Spain in early May, at the inaugural meeting of the Spanish Dam and Reservoir Society (SEPREM).

The Society was set up early this year, and its aim is to integrate all the professionals working in the area of dams and reservoirs. The group has opened its doors to professionals from fields as wide apart as geologists, environmental scientists, planners, civil engineers, chemists, and all who may have a stake in assuring that dams and reservoirs are operated successfully. The group was prompted by the realisation that the dam industry depends not only on technical and planning issues but also on social and environmental factors.

SEPREM sees its role as twofold: to allow a wide range of professionals to debate issues relating to dams; and to be a conduit for information between the dam industry and the public.

The success of the group can be measured in its membership, which has reached 250 in its first six months and is expected to be between 700 and 1000 by the end of 1998. The group has already been active, under the presidency of Joaquín Díez-Cascón Sagrado, and organised a seminar, ‘Dams: benefits and risk prevention’ which was held on 20 May.

At the meeting three round tables considered safety management, regulations and liabilities, and risk prevention and coverage. The meeting’s conclusions were: •A law on dam and reservoir safety should be developed that is applicable to all structures, regardless of their type or location.

•An inspectorate should be created with the authority to enforce the provisions of the law, and should be provided with the necessary funding and staff.

The group now plans to set up technical committees on: economic and environmental importance of reservoirs; water policy; dam safety; construction materials and ageing; foundation, geotechnology and geology; design and construction; dam history; and recreational uses.

The issues raised will be discussed at meetings in Spain and in Latin America.