UK government to strengthen reservoir safety after Toddbrook report

Owners of reservoirs in the UK will be expected to apply the lessons learned from the Toddbrook Reservoir incident, after the government accepted a series of recommendations made in a report by the government’s reviewer of reservoir safety, Professor David Balmforth.

According to a report on the website of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), this report looks to build on England’s existing safety regulations for reservoirs by reviewing events that took place in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, last year after the Toddbrook Reservoir’s spillway partially collapsed after a severe storm event.

Professor Balmforth concluded that a combination of poor design and intermittent maintenance led to the partial collapse of the spillway after the heavy rainfall at the end of July last year. The dam that impounds this reservoir was built in 1831, and it is located about 0.5 km southwest of the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, England. It has a capacity of 1,238 megaliters and provides water to the Peak Forest Canal.

The report makes a series of recommendations to further build on the country’s safety regime that will strengthen the remit of the Environment Agency — the government’s regulator of reservoirs — and aid owners in ensuring their ongoing maintenance and checks are robust. The government will be accepting all recommendations, which include:

Strengthen delivery of the inspection regime to improve reservoir safety and help prevent similar incidents in future

Boost the Environment Agency’s remit as regulator to enforce outstanding statutory maintenance

Improve reservoir owners’ and engineers’ understanding that structural failure of spillways Incidents such as Toddbrook are extremely rare and these recommendations will further develop England’s reservoir safety regime.

“This review provides the whole reservoir industry with important lessons following the incident that took place at Toddbrook Reservoir last year, and I hope it also reassures the public that we remain committed to ensuring the safety of reservoirs across the country,” said Environment Secretary George Eustice. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our communities, and I expect the Environment Agency and reservoir owners to immediately take action on these recommendations in order to ensure the continued safety those living and working near reservoirs.”

The report also recommends a second part of the review, which will take a wider look at how the Reservoirs Act and regulations are implemented and make any necessary recommendations to further ensure reservoir safety.

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