Work begins to drain Chasewater ahead of dam safety work

A billion gallons of water is set to be drained out of Chasewater reservoir to allow safety improvements to be carried out.

Cllr Val Richards and Cllr David Smith opening the valves on Chasewater reservoir

Cllr Val Richards and Cllr David Smith opening the valves on Chasewater reservoir

A team of experts and representatives from Lichfield District Council have opened the valves, to drai the reservoir in preparation for a major programme of safety improvements to Chasewater’s eastern dam.

Now that the valves are open, the water will flow into the Anglesey Branch Canal and then into Crane Brook – which will join the River Tame in Fazeley.

Visitors to Chasewater will notice that the reservoir’s water level will drop dramatically over the coming months. As the water level goes down, it will expose the muddy reservoir bed, which visitors are being warned not to go near for fear of soft, deep mud and silt.

Councillor Val Richards, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, said:

“Opening the valves to drain the reservoir signifies the start of a major programme of safety improvements. Getting to this stage is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and it is good to finally get started on these works as it is essential that we make sure the dam meets current safety standards, making it safe for years to come.

“It is very important that visitors follow our safety advice. However, I would like to stress that Chasewater Country Park will be open as usual. Visitors can still enjoy the surrounding countryside and facilities, including the heritage railway and Innovation Centre.”

The works cannot begin until the water level has been lowered. The improvements will take around seven months to complete and should be finished by the end of the year.

The council expects to start refilling the reservoir in September. However, it could take between two and four years to refill it to its normal level, as it will depend upon rainfall levels and the amount of water the local canal network needs.

Cllr Richards added:

“I would like to extend our gratitude to the clubs that use Chasewater reservoir for their understanding and patience during these works.”

To keep up to date on the works and to watch the progress of the water levels dropping captured by a ‘Dam Cam’ visit www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/chasewaterdamblog.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

9 Comments

  1. Andy Mabbett

    1st February, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    It’s amazing to think that water from Chasewater will flow via the Tame, into the Trent, and thence to the Humber and into the North Sea.

  2. BrownhillsBob

    1st February, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    So there you have it.

    Despite all of the scaremongering, hysterics and am-dram, the work on the dam begins as scheduled. The only thing Mickey’s approach has achieved is the scaring witless of loads of people, for no other good reason than his usual grandstanding…

  3. Michael Fabricant

    4th February, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Brownhills Bob makes his point in his usual unpleasant (and inaccurate) way. The fact is the Council gave me all the information which I duly passed on – without exaggeration or change in any way – to the Prime Minister and the media. If he doesn’t like it, complain to them. All the estimates of damage and loss of life arising from a breach in the dam are that provided by the Council’s own consulting engineers. Bob doesn’t like it and neither do I. But unlike Bob, I believe the truth should not be hidden from view. (I experienced enough of that when I worked in the Soviet Union back in the 80s!)

  4. Steve

    4th February, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    The Council report must have been the very worst case scenario. There would have been other and more likely possibilities.

    I nearly read that the you worked FOR the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Michael!!!

    It’s not about death and destruction. It is about money and it’s not even about the Council Tax Payers bearing the cost, not directly. LDC will not impose a tax rise to pay for it. It’ll be jobs and services that will be cut (blaming the recession and central Government spending cut) that will pay for it. Local people will get fewer and incrementally crappier services to pay for something that needs doing, but no one will benefit from.

    This is where we are at. There is now point trying to find someone to blame, we need to find a way to get through this.

  5. BrownhillsBob

    5th February, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Right, lets cut the cobblers, and address a few points here. i’ll address the member personally, if I may.

    I’ve been tracking progress of this issue for months on Brownhills Blog.

    As I have stated all along, I believe Lichfield Council should be helped with the cost of the dam upgrade. This shouldn’t come directly from the government, but from the partners with an interest, like British Waterways. I believe the way to achieve this is always through quiet diplomacy, rather than scaremongering.

    Michael, would be grateful if you and your mates at the council would credit some of the observers of this melee with the technical skill and ability to understand what’s going on with the dam. I’ve seen the report; there is next to no danger of the dam bursting in the immediate term. If there had been any such danger, that lake would have been drained quicker than you could say controversy – as it is, a low water level has been maintained for the past 18 months or so, and planned work is ongoing, with the drawdown having commenced this week. Engineers are in charge of this. They know what they’re doing.

    All earth dams leak, and erosion is an understood, controllable effect. Upgrades to the retention structures at Chasewater are necessary and desirable, as they are with several hundred other such facilities in the country. These works will ensure continued safety in the event of freak weather events, and provide many years of further service for this important reservoir. That the report recommending them contained the very worst case scenarios does not mean they’re impending, likely or probable.Your histrionic, alarmist statements about scores being killed contributed nothing whatsoever to rational debate on the subject, and instead have caused alarm and distress to a good many local residents, whilst achieving a predictably negative response from the government.

    Since your ill-advised cry of ‘Fire’, my blog has been continually hit by searches based on terms like ‘Chasewater death toll’, ‘Chasewater dam burst’ and the like. At no point did you consider it necessary to point out to your distressed and incredulous audience that the works were due to start as planned, exactly has they had been for months, and that there was no real cause for panic. Instead, the local press, TV and other media parroted your shrill mantra that doom was a hairs-breadth away. This was neither sensible or productive.

    In the midst of this manufactured storm, you chose to play party politics, which was also regrettable. I suspect the faux-hurt you claim to feel was more to do with the precision of the uncharacteristically observant snipe by Gordon Brown to you at question time. I suspect the Christian Aid lot have been pushing him steroids, he’s normally as sharp as a marble.

    You’ve wheeled out a lot of hairy old chestnuts in this affair, including lofty accusations of inaccuracy addressed at myself and Steve Norman, but never actually pointing them out; you’ve made loft allusions to the USSR and also a claim that you’re only repeating what you’ve been told. I note you’ve also wheeled out the tired ‘lurkers support me in private’ defence, which didn’t work on Usenet in 1996, nor on web fora in 2003 and it certainly doesn’t wash here. Anecdote isn’t evidence, so please don’t insult our intelligence.

    I suspect you’ve probably done more harm than good, but your modus operandi has always been to sensationalise. I wish LDC well in their attempts to get assistance with this project, but scare tactics are ill advised, misjudged and regrettable, particularly to those of us who do indeed cherish the concept of truth.

    I thank the Lichfield Blog for allowing me the space to post this lengthy reply, which will also appear on the Brownhills Blog (just click my name at the top of this post).

    Best wishes

    Bob

  6. Michael Fabricant

    5th February, 2010 at 9:51 am

    You are probably right Steve about trying to find a way through this. (Not about me working FOR the USSR!!) The good news is the County has set the increase at 1.9% which is low and that is 80% of the Council Tax bill anyway. District and parish councils make up the rest. I know that the Council is meeting up with British Waterways and other bodies so maybe the cost can be shared after all. Fingers crossed.

  7. Adam

    7th February, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    This is a hair-raising issue; if the dam bursts we’ll be flooded out

  8. johnthemon

    8th February, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    We have a politician on the job, by putting the frighteners out, which I am sure was not his intention, has now inherited himself as being know as a Dam politician.

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