ICE presses for safety measures at smaller reservoirs
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the British Dam Society want Defra to ensure swift implementation of key changes to the 1975 Reservoirs Act - changes that will ensure all reservoirs capable of holding over 10,000m3 of water that could pose a high risk to the public if their dam overtopped or collapsed - are subject to statutory safety checks.
Currently, the safety requirements set out in the Act, which include inspections every ten years and an annual check by a supervising engineer, only apply to large raised reservoirs capable of holding more than 25,000m3 of water. Smaller reservoirs with a capacity of less than 25,000m3 are not subject to any safety requirements irrespective of the possible consequences of a dam collapse.
Equally there are reservoirs holding above 25,000m3 that are subject to safety requirements when the consequences of failure are considered negligible, said ICE.
The Pitt Review recommended that the 1975 Act was updated to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the public, and most of the amendments were subsequently included in the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act.
The 2010 Act set out a two-phased approach to implementation in England. The first phase, which would see those reservoirs above 25,000m3 posing little risk to the public no longer facing statutory inspections, has just been enacted following a lengthy delay. The implementation of phase two, which would see smaller reservoirs presenting a significant risk to society added into the ten-year inspection cycle, is still uncertain.
ICE president Professor Barry Clarke said the delay and uncertainty around the introduction of the important phase two was concerning. He said: “The delay in implementing phase one has naturally created considerable uncertainty and scepticism regarding when phase two will be implemented in this parliament – and even whether it will be implemented at all. Without phase two residents, commercial and residential property, and infrastructure remain at risk, and this is especially concerning given the increase in heavy rain and flooding we have been experiencing in recent years.
“The delay is also creating uncertainty within the industry and the ability for both reservoir engineers and owners to make clear cut business decisions on what could be important safety work. Reservoir professionals are working in partial isolation with no clear messages as to when, if or how the changes will be introduced.”
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