The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a branch of science and technology concerned with the study of water resources and their use for various economic purposes, as well as the prevention by means of engineering works of the damaging effect of water.

Hydrotechnics has the following fundamental specializations, depending on the branch of water management being served: the utilization of water energy; provision of navigation and timber floating along waterways; irrigation, water supply, and drainage of agricultural land; water supply for populated areas, transport, and industrial enterprises; removal of excess water, sewage, and polluted water from built-up areas; provision of the necessary conditions for fisheries (fish passages past hydrotechnical works, creation of reservoirs for the spawning and breeding of fish, and so on); and protection of populated regions, industrial plants, transportation and communication lines, and various kinds of structures from damage by water. Such a division of hydrotechnics is, to a certain degree, conditional, because in the majority of cases the utilization of water is comprehensive in its nature, that is, several water management problems are solved simultaneously. Examples of the multifaceted use of water resources include the Moscow Canal, the Volga-Don complex, and the hydroengineering complexes on the Volga, Dnieper, Don, Enisei, and other rivers.

Since it is an applied science, hydrotechnics is supported by a number of other sciences concerned with water, such as hydrology, hydromechanics, and hydraulics and by many scientific disciplines of engineering construction, such as engineering geology, soil mechanics, structural mechanics, elasticity theory, structural design, and the technology of structural production. Among the most important problems of hydrotechnics are the study of water flow action on channels and hydrotechnical works, the development of methods to protect coastal regions from water current damage, the development of methods to regulate river runoffs, the study of water filtration through the soil of foundations and structures (especially earthen structures); and the development of stability theory for hydrotechnical structures and their foundations, including theories for the strength and reliability of hydrotechnical designs, the durability of materials for the erection of works, and so on. The studies made on the theoretical problems of hydrotechnics serve as a basis for the development of methods of calculating and designing structures as well as procedures for erecting and operating them.

In addition to theoretical investigations many questions in hydrotechnics are resolved experimentally using laboratory modeling aided by full-scale studies of such matters as the hydraulic state of structures, the stress and strain components of the structural elements, the processes by which river channels are formed and the effects of ice.

Hydrotechnics is one of the most ancient branches of science and technology. As long ago as 4400 B.C. canals were built to irrigate the soil in the Nile Valley. In approximately 4000 B.C. the oldest stone dam was constructed in Egypt, at Kosheish; earthen dams were apparently built even before that. In Babylon between 4000 and 3000 B.C. there were cities with water conduits and artesian wells; hydrotechnical structures were known in ancient Khorezm (800 to 600 B.C.). During the period of the flourishing of Greece and Rome there was a considerable development in hydrotechnics: the Appian water conduit was built, a sewer system was provided for Rome, and an attempt was made to drain the Pontine Marshes. About 2000 B.C. dams were built in the territory of modern Holland to protect the lowlands from flooding, and in ancient Georgia and Armenia canals were constructed. Beginning in 400 or 500 B.C. there was a seaport in Samos with moles; in approximately the same period the first navigable channels were built (for example, a canal from the Nile to the Red Sea).

During the feudal fragmentation period, hydrotechnical construction in western Europe was reduced to small works, such as water mills, city water supplies, and castles. With the development of trading and crafts in the 13th and 14th centuries more modern hydraulic works appeared, navigation locks and other structures were constructed on the waterways and in the ports, and drainage and irrigation works were completed. During the 17th and 18th centuries manufacturing appeared, trade increased, and the growth of the cities involved a new upsurge in hydrotechnical construction. The works of Galileo, B. Pascal, I. Newton, M. V. Lomonosov, and D. Bernoulli significantly advanced the theoretical basis of hydrotechnics, thus making it possible to go on to more complicated hydrotechnical structures. In the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, the importance of waterways increased substantially; many navigable canals were built in France, England, and other countries; and port facilities were developed (for example, the London and Liverpool docks and the breakwaters at Cherbourg and Genoa).

In Russia hydrotechnics advanced during the 17th and 18th centuries: more than 200 factory dams and hydraulic installations were created in the Urals, Altai, and other localities (the Zmeinogorsk earthen dam with a height of 18 m and the hydraulic power installation constructed by K. D. Frolov during the 1780’s stand out); new waterways were built, including the Mariinsk, Tikhvinka, and Vishnii Volok systems (which connect the Volga with the Baltic Sea) and the Sever-naia-Dvina system.

The invention of steam engines and the appearance of railways in western Europe at the beginning of the 19th century lessened the interest in hydraulic installations and water transportation. But during the second half of the 19th century hydrotechnical construction had a new upsurge, caused by the growth of industry and agriculture and the development of large cities that required water supplies. Old waterways were rebuilt and new ones constructed, large-scale irrigation and drainage works were carried out, and modern hydroelectric plants appeared. All this was aided by the general progress in technology, such as the development of mechanical engineering, the transmission of electric power over long distances, the use of concrete and reinforced concrete, and the mechanization of construction.

During the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s in Russia the country’s economic development resulted in some revival of hydrotechnical construction, mainly in water transportation, irrigation and drainage of the soil, and water supplies; however, the water power of the rivers went practically unused. Although hydrotechnical construction in Russia was limited, hydrotechnical science was at a fairly high level and was developing in advance of practice (the works of N. E. Zhukovskii, S. A. Chaplygin, and D. K. Bobylev in hydromechanics and hydraulics; N. S. Leliavskii, and V. M. Lokhtin on hydrology and the regulation of rivers; and I.I. Zhilinskii, V. E. Timonov, F. G. Zbrozhek, N. P. Puzyrev-skii, and B. N. Kandiba on waterways, water supplies, and irrigation).

Hydrotechnics became highly developed after the Great October Socialist Revolution. Large hydrotechnical construction necessitated the development of new types of hydrotechnical structures previously not used in Russia and the solution of problems stemming from the peculiarities of the country’s natural conditions. Thus, for instance, a successful solution was found for the problem of erecting dams on the clay and sand foundations typical of the plains rivers in the country (the Svir’, Rybinsk, and Tsimliansk dams); new types of earthen lightweight concrete and reinforced-concrete dams were developed; new designs for navigable locks, intakes, and regulating and harbor works were created; the production methods of labor were improved; and efficient methods of erecting dams and hydroengineering complexes were introduced (such as the methods of working with no preliminary drainage of the construction site and of pouring earth into flowing water).

The improvement of hydrotechnical construction was the result of scientific studies. Research efforts produced distinctive developments in the following fields: the hydraulics of structures and open channels (Academician N. N. Pavlovskii and Professors M. D. Chertousov and A. N. Akhutin), the theories of silt movements and the erosion of river beds (Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR M. A. Velikanov; Professors V. N. Goncharov, I. I. Levi, and S. T. Altunin) and the theory of filtration in hydrotechnical structures (Academicians N. N. Pavlovskii and P. Ia. Kochina, Professors E. A. Zamarin and F. B. Nel’ son-Skorniakov).

In the fields of hydrotechnical structures and their foundations the works of Academician B. G. Galerkin, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR N. M. Gersevanov, V. A. Florin, and Professors N. P. Puzyrevskii, V. P. Skryl’nikov, and G. N. Maslov have been noteworthy. Great service was rendered in the development of modern hydrotechnics by eminent scientists and engineers and the directors of large groups of hydraulic engineers, among them Academicians B. E. Vedeneev, A. V. Vinter, G. O. Graftio, I.G. Aleksandrov and S. Ia. Zhuk and Professors V. D. Zhurin and I.I. Kandalov.

In the USSR scientific research in hydrotechnics is carried on at a number of research and design institutes, such as the B. E. Vedeneev All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Hydrotechnics (VNIIG), Gidroproekt (the S. Ia. Zhuk All-Union Project Surveying and Scientific Research Institute), the A. N. Kostiakov All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Hydrotechnics and Land Reclamation (VNIIGiM), and the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Water Supply, Sewage Systems, Hydrotechnical Works, and Engineering Hydrogeology (VNIIVODGEO). Institutions of higher learning, such as the V. V. Kuibyshev Moscow Engineering Construction Institute and the M. I. Kalinin Leningrad Polytechnic Institute also do research. Among the best known foreign organizations are the Experimental Institute of Models and Structures at Bergamo (Italy), the Hydraulic Laboratory at Grenoble (France), the laboratory for dam studies of the Bureau of Reclamation (USA), the hydraulics laboratory of the University of California (USA), and the Technical Laboratory of the Central Scientific Research Institute of the Power Industry (Japan).

Engineering hydrotechnologists are trained in the USSR in the appropriate departments of the V. V. Kuibyshev Moscow Engineering Construction Institute, the M. N. Kalinin Leningrad Polytechnic Institute, the Moscow Hydroreclamation Institute, and other institutions, in which the core departments are headed by such prominent scientists as Professors M. M. Grishin, A. V. Mikhailov, P. D. Glebov, B. D. Kachanovskii, A. L. Mozhevitinov, and S. F. Aver’ianov.

The Soviet school of hydrotechnics has received worldwide recognition and is rightfully regarded as the leader in building large hydrotechnical structures on soft soils, unique structures on rock precipices and permafrost ground, and high-pressure hydrotechnical structures using concrete and local materials, as well as in creating large artificial water storage basins and irrigation systems and deep-water transportation routes of substantial length.

The utilization of the USSR’s water resources is constantly increasing, thus extending the areas to which hydrotechnics is being applied. The prospects for its development in the Soviet Union are bound up with the projected large increase of the electrical power produced by all the hydroelectric power plants in the country. Further exploitation of the rivers in Siberia, Middle Asia, and the Far East is contemplated; the cascades of the hydroengineering complexes on the Volga, the Kama, and the Dnieper will be completed; and water supplies, irrigation, and drainage will be developed considerably. The canals under construction will be completed and new ones will be built to supply water to industries (the Dnieper-Krivoi Rog, the Dnieper-Donbas, the Irtysh-Karaganda, and others). Plans are under way to carry out considerable reconstruction and extension of the United Deepwater System in the European USSR. The resolution of hydrotechnical problems requires further scientific studies and the development of new economical designs for high-pressure dams, hydrotechnical lightweight structures, and canals and tunnels having large cross sections. Efficient methods of construction of these works, especially in raions having a dry climate and high seismic activity must also be worked out.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Dunca, "The history of hydraulic structures realized in Banat hydrographical area (Romania)," Transactions on Hydrotechnics, Scientific Bulletin of Politehnica University of Timisoara, vol.
A revised approach, Scientific Papers of the Institute of Geotechnics and Hydrotechnics of the Wroclaw University ofTechnology 75: 463-472.
- PhD in Technical Sciences in the field of irrigation and land reclamation, Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Hydrotechnics and Land Reclamation, 1975.
Kalenikov, Institute of Hydrotechnics & Melioration
For some "hydrotechnics" on big-swell days, continue out to Spouting Horn County Park to watch - and hear - the ocean whoosh through a lava blowhole.