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International Symposium on “Floods and Modern Methods of Control Measures”, dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Georgian Water Management Institute (GWMI).

Thursday, September 24
The Institute of Water Management is one of the oldest scientific organizations in the Southern Caucasus, which was founded in 1925 and, officially, registered in 1929. The Institute is a legal assignee of the Institute of Water Management of Transcaucasia, Scientific-Research Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Reclamation of Georgia and Institute of Water Management and Engineering Ecology of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

For years, the Institute, the only one in the Southern Caucasus, has been engaged in researches on solving problems: floods and inundations, erosion and debris flows, protection of the environment, natural disasters, coasts of the sea and rivers, reclamation (drainage in high-moisture areas, irrigation in arid zones), water reservoirs, soils, survey of hydraulic structures including their designing, construction and maintenance, researches on solving problems of their stability etc. Later the similar scientific-research organizations were founded in Azerbaijan and Armenia, which function at the present time and cooperate with the Institute of Water Management regularly.

From its foundation till the year 1947, the Institute was supervised by K. Mikhailov, E. Gabiev, N. Sokolovsky, D. Galilov, Sh. Bitlazar, G. Larin and P. Solod. In 1947-68, the Institute was managed by Prof. Michael Gagoshidze, who improved its work considerably. In 1968-2005, the Institute was managed by Acad. Tsotne Mirtskhoulava, Academician of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, and Academician of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences. At the present time, he is a Senior Staff Scientist and Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Institute. In 2006, he was awarded the honorary title of the Scientist of the Year. It should be noted that he highlighted the achievements of the Institute and got immense international prestige.

In 2005, I have been appointed as director of the Institute upon the recommendation of Acad. Tsotne Mirtskhoulava and support of the Institute’s staff. The Institute currently has three departments and one laboratory equipped with modern computer equipment. 1. Department of Natural Disasters (Head of Department, Dr. Prof. V. Tevzadze); 2. Department of Water Resources and Hydraulic Structures (Head of Department, Dr. I. Iordanishvili); 3. Department of Water Conservation and Environmental Safety (Head of Department, Ph.D. G. Chitishvili); 4. Laboratory of Environmental Protection (Head of Laboratory, Ph.D. G. Chakhaia). The staff of the Institute consists of 72 collaborators, including the following 35 scientists: 1 – Academician of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the New-York Academy, Academician of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Ts. Mirtskhoulava), 1 – Academician Secretary of the Georgian Academy of Sciences and Academician Secretary of the Agricultural Department of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (O. Natishvili), 1 – Corresponding Member of the Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (V. Tevzadze), 3 – Academicians of the Engineering Academy, 1 – Academician of the International Engineering Academy, 4 – Academicians of the Environmental Academy, 9 – Dr-s, 15 – Scientists holding academic degrees of Doctors, 5 – PhD candidates, 3 – masters.

To provide scientific research, the Institute possesses 6 experimental-reclamation ecological stations in different regions of Georgia, which are as follows; The Institute owns a unique hydrotechnical laboratory, one of the largest in Europe, which is equipped with appropriate equipment and pumping station.

In 2005 the Institute was awarded the diploma «Century International Quality Era Award» for a lot of scientific projects, surveys and functioning of the world’s best hydrotechnical laboratory.

The Institute owns Flood and Debris Flow Modeling Laboratory, Soil Engineering and Technical Reclamation Laboratory and, Soil and Water Quality Laboratory, which provide implementation of researches, grant projects and contract works.

For years, the Institute participated in the implementation of the following projects: elaboration of the flood control program of Georgia, elaboration of the debris flow preparedness state program, reversal of the Northern Siberian Rivers to Central Asia; designing and construction of water facilities in Algeria, Syria, Cuba, Kazakhstan and Greece; designing of coast-protecting structures for the coast line of the Caspian Sea (100 km long);

To control dangerous geological processes, including floods, erosion and debris flows and other natural disasters and, to protect settlements, power lines and transport corridors in Georgia, the Institute developed special methods related to the designing not only of springboard-type structures but also of other modern and old structures.

It’s well known that the most dangerous between natural disasters are floods. In accordance with UNO, about 10 million people died as a result of flooding during the last century. In 1959, massive floods in China killed at least 2 million people. In 1970 a flood in the Bay of Bengal killed 1 million people and caused great damages. Floods cause not only human victims, but also great material damages. A lot of us remember a flood happened in Georgia in 1987, which caused great damages across the country. Every day we get more and more information on population and environmental damages caused by disasters happened in the world.

In accordance with a report of the World Bank (2005), more than half of the world’s population – 3.4 billion people – lives in areas under natural disaster risk. In 160 countries, more than a quarter of local population lives in natural disaster high-risk areas. In accordance with a report prepared by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED, 2007), the economic damages due to natural disasters were equal to 34 billion US dollars. Amounts spent to control the effects of natural disasters are very impressive. Let us consider a list of amounts spent around the World for the above-mentioned purposes: during the last twenty years (1980-2003) the World Bank loaned about 14.4 billion US dollars to at least 20 countries affected by natural disasters. In 1999-2003, economic losses from natural disasters happened in the world were equal to 212.692 billion dollars, the amount split between Europe and Asia, where losses achieved 161.5 billion dollars. Natural disasters happened in Georgia during the 21st century achieved their maximum in 2005. And more than 70% falls on inundations, floods and debris flows.

At least 190 settlements throughout the country were considered as located in dangerous high-risk zones: number of injured population – 880 families, number of dead people – 35, number of injured people – 213, number of destroyed and damaged roads and bridges – 111 km and 69 bridges and, about 9610 ha of damaged agricultural lands. Because of the natural disasters in 2005 Georgia was in a condition of emergency 86 times. The similar natural disasters were observed in Georgia in 2006-2009.

In 1999-2008 economic losses in Georgia caused by natural disasters were equal to 552 million US dollars. At the same period of time in other two countries of the Southern Caucasus economic losses caused by natural disasters were as follows: Azerbaijan – 170 million US dollars, Armenia – 100 million US dollars.

Scientists and other representatives of communities shall pay special attention to the fact that inundations, floods and debris flows can be caused by dam failure. So, the governments shall pay attention to the safety of dams and reservoirs. At the present time, at least 100 000 dams are functioning in the world, and about 100 in Georgia. For today about 21350 failures of dams were recorded in the world, including more than 1000 during the last 100 years (approximately, 10 occurrences per year). This fact makes us think more deeply and confirms that all measures shall be taken to provide dam safety. The above-mentioned can be confirmed by a flood occurred in the Philippines (2009), which was caused by a dam failure.

So, the Institute has rendered great services to the former Soviet Union and Europe, which can be expressed by a new scientific area developed by Acad., professor Ts. Mirtskhoulava, especially, extension of time limit for the deteriorated hydraulic structures and dams using reliability and risk theories, Kolmogorov and Ito differential equations as well as Markov properties.

The Institute continues multilateral collaboration in scientific relations and researches with the USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, China, Israel, Germany, Greece, Japan, Romania, Syria, Cuba, Turkey, Iraq, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and other scientific, project, construction organizations and universities. Moreover, the Institute collaborates with EU, NATO, UNESCO and other non-governmental organizations.

From the foundation of the Institute till today, we have published more than 3500 scientific papers, more than 300 manuals and instructions, 7 professional and educational standards, about 100 textbooks, 150 books and 100 monographs. Also, more than 50 scientific and technical conferences were implemented at the Institute. Every year the Institute publishes collected papers not only for the collaborators of the Institute, but also for the other scientific organizations of Georgia and foreign specialists. The Institute owns scientific-technical library (32 thousand units). During the former Soviet Union the Institute produced about 90 inventions, and after the recognition of Georgia’s independence (1992) – 36 patents. The Institute implemented about 216 innovations and took participation in 17 international exhibitions.

In 2006-2009 the scientists of the Institute submitted 48 grant projects to the Georgia National Science Foundation, and got – 7 projects. Also, they submitted 5 projects to the foreign organizations and got 2 projects (EU, NATO). Now, 17 state projects are elaborated at the Institute (see photo).

Upon the order of governmental and non-governmental organizations in 2006-2009 the Institute implemented environmental examination of more than 30 objects. To help the population of Kvareli to avoid possible floods and debris flows, the Institute guides the State Committee, which studies emergency conditions of the Duruji River.

The Institute submitted to the government the project “Immediate Soil Erosion Protection Measures for the areas, which have been influenced by fire in Borjomi District” and ecological-economic losses caused by forest fire in the Borjomi area as a result of August war in Georgia (2008).

Taking into account active work of the Institute, its experience and international authority, on the 30th day of May, 2008 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concluded a contract with the Institute to organize the International Symposium on “Floods and Modern Methods of Control Measures” (Tbilisi 23-28 September, 2009) dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Institute.

It should be noted that from the foundation of the Institute until today the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supported implementation of three international symposia, especially: 1969 – “Flood Control Measures”; 1995 – “The Man and The Sea”; 2009 – “Floods and Modern Methods of Control Measures”.

We hope that the international symposium “Floods and Modern Methods of Control Measures” will promote environmental protection and stability of the Earth, implementation of International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR, Hyogo Document, , 18-22 January 2005, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan), collaboration between scientists of the world, exchange of information and solving of flood problem using modern scientific achievements and nanotechnologies.

And at the end, I would like to congratulate the Institute of Water Management, where I’ve worked the last 28 years, its collaborators and teachers on its 80th anniversary, to wish them peace and territorial integrity of our country and creative and scientific progress of the Institute and Georgia.

Chairman of the International Symposium,Director of the Georgian Water Management Institute,Doctor of Technical Science, Professor.