After Whaley Bridge there will be growing focus on dam safety and the operators of this ageing infrastructure (continue)

The end of emergency and the ongoing pumping set up – watch the video (continue)

The summer floods of 2019 gave rise to the major emergency at the Whale Bridge reservoir. Once the immediate danger had been averted commentators have started to look at the bigger picture and the Environment Agency have responded.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive at The Environment Agency  ‘ From the beginning of the Whaley Bridge incident, the Environment Agency has worked tirelessly with the emergency services and the reservoir’s operator, the Canal & River Trust (CRT), to protect the town. I was in Whaley Bridge today (8 August) to thank all involved and ensure we press on with the next stage of recovery and repair work.  We are delighted that the residents of Whaley Bridge are now able to return to their homes and businesses. This follows a thorough assessment of the stability of the dam and was the collective judgement of the police, emergency services, CRT and Environment Agency. It was made on the basis that water levels in the reservoir have decreased substantially and robust arrangements are now in place to ensure they remain low in the event of further heavy rainfall.  The reservoir has been weakened by heavy rainfall, and work is needed to restore the very high safety standards required by law. This will be carried out by the CRT under our supervision as the regulator.

Safety Record

Our reservoirs across England have an excellent safety record, with the last fatal failure being nearly 100 years ago. Dams in England are regulated by the Reservoirs Act 1975, which sets out stringent conditions for the operation of reservoirs to ensure high levels of safety. They are designed and operated in a way to ensure the likelihood of failure is incredibly low.  Responsibility for ensuring the safety of reservoirs lies with their operators. Our job, as the regulator is to ensure they comply with the legal safety requirements. We monitor compliance at all 2,072 large raised reservoirs in England and employ a range of enforcement options to address non-compliance. These can include:

  • Enforcement notices requiring reservoir owners and operators to complete outstanding safety works.
  • Requiring operators to appoint Government-appointed supervising and inspecting engineers.
  • Powers to force entry to conduct surveys, inspections and physical works.
  • Direct intervention to carry out safety measures where an operator has not done so.
  • Powers to force entry to land without giving notice and take any appropriate measures to reduce the risk or mitigate the effects of a failure. We have done this in the past.’ Click here to read more 

Final days details of the Whaley Bridge Incident – Guardian

John Curtin Video showing the pumping set up in the reservoir

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