The British Dam Society
Caring for dams, people and the environment

Reservoir Safety

The safety of reservoirs is of paramount importance to the British Dam Society and is a key driving force behind many of the meetings, events and research undertaken by the society. This part of the website contains links and information relating to:


Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011

The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 introduces a risk-based approach to the regulation of reservoirs which aims to increase reservoir safety in Scotland. Key features of the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 are:

  • The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will become the enforcement authority (anticipated to commence in 2015) taking over responsibility from local authorities;
  • The capacity threshold for regulated reservoirs will be reduced from 25,000m3 to 10,000m3;
  • The introduction of a risk based and proportionate approach to the management of reservoir safety;
  • Reservoir Managers will be required to register their reservoir with SEPA.

The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 will repeal and replace the Reservoirs Act 1975 which is currently enforced by Scotland’s 32 local authorities

The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 is available here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2011/9/pdfs/asp_20110009_en.pdf

Information relating to the implementation of the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 is available from the Scottish Government website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/Water/16922

Reservoirs Act 1975

The Reservoirs Act 1975 provides the legal framework to ensure the safety of UK reservoirs that hold at least 25,000 cu m of water above natural ground level. Approximately 2,500 reservoirs are covered by the Act: some 80% of these are formed by embankment dams with the remainder being concrete or masonry dams or service reservoirs. The Act is applicable in England, Wales and Scotland: it does not apply to Northern Ireland, although some reservoir owners and operators there comply with the spirit of the Act.

The Act identifies four key persons or organisations with distinct functions and responsibilities as follows:

  • Undertakers
    The Undertakers are generally the owners or operators of the reservoir, and have ultimate responsibility for the safety of the reservoir.

  • Enforcement Authorities
    The Enforcement Authority is responsible for ensuring that the Undertakers observe and comply with the requirements of the Act.

    Since 1 October 2004 the Environment Agency has been the Enforcement Authority for England and Wales. Further information on the Act and the Environment Agency’s responsibilities can be found on http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/64246.aspx

    The Enforcement Authorities in Scotland are the Local Authorities.

  • Qualified Civil Engineers (also referred to as Panel Engineers)
    Qualified civil engineers are experienced reservoir engineers appointed to one of the panels under the Act by the Secretary of State in consultation with the Institution of Civil Engineers. They are responsible for the design and supervision of construction, the supervision of measures in the interests of safety, inspection of reservoirs and the ongoing supervision of reservoirs. There are currently four panels of engineers:
    • All Reservoirs Panel
    • Non-impounding Reservoirs Panel
    • Service Reservoirs Panel
    • Supervising Engineers Panel

    Further details of these panels and a list of currently appointed panel engineers can be found on http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/64253.aspx

  • Secretary of State
    The Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing the activities of the Enforcement Authorities, appointment of qualified civil engineers and making statutory instruments to prescribe regulations.

    Current responsibility for the Act in England lies with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Since 1 July 1999, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales have had the powers to make specific regulations for Scotland and Wales respectively, but these have not yet been used.

Back to topFlood and Water Management Bill 2010

The Reservoirs Act 1975 is in the process of being updated by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.   The Flood and water Management Act reflects a more risk-based approach to reservoir regulation through:

  • Reducing the capacity at which a reservoir will be regulated from 25,000m3 to 10,000m3; and
  • Ensuring that only those reservoirs assessed as a higher risk are subject to regulation
  • All undertakers with reservoirs over 10,000m3must register their reservoirs with the Environment Agency
  • Inspecting engineers must provide a report on their inspection within 6 months
  • All undertakers must prepare a reservoir flood plan
  • All incidents at reservoirs must be reported

The reservoir sections of the Act are dependent upon on the development of secondary legislation (regulations and orders) before the law can be fully implemented, so it is likely that many of the provisions in the Act will not come into force for some time yet.

Link to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2010/pdf/ukpga_20100029_en.pdf

Back to topFlood Plans

In fulfillment of a commitment made in response to the Pitt Review, The Government has completed inundation (flood) mapping of every reservoir under the Reservoirs Act, in England and Wales. 

Reservoir owners will in due course be required to prepare on-site emergency plans. On-site emergency plans detail how reservoir owners or those responsible for the operation of a reservoir will respond to a potential or real reservoir failure. It is good practice for all reservoirs to have on-site plans and all reservoir owners are recommended to prepare one.

Link to further information on on-site plans: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/flooding/reservoir/flood-plans.htm

Back to topRecommended guidance documents

An initial list of guidance documents covering a range of topics is given below.

Interim guide to quantitative risk assessment for UK reservoirs. Brown AJ and Gosden JD (2004). Thomas Telford, 161pp.

A Guide to the Reservoirs Act 1975. Institution of Civil Engineers (2000). Thomas Telford, London. 209pp.

Register of British dams. Report BR 261, 55pp. Building Research Establishment (1994).

An engineering guide to seismic risk to dams in the United Kingdom. Charles J A, Abbiss C P, Gosschalk E M and Hinks J L (1991). BRE Report BR 210, 64pp.

Investigating embankment dams: a guide to the identification and repair of defects. Charles J A, Tedd P, Hughes A K and Lovenbury H T (1996). BRE Report BR 303, 81pp.

Bibliography of British dams. Charles J A and Tedd P [compilers] (1996).. Building Reserach Establishment, Report BR 310, 50pp.

Guide to analysis of open?channel spillway flows. Ellis J R (1989). CIRIA, Report TN 134.

Design of flood storage reservoirs. Hall M J, Hockin D L and Ellis J B (1992).. CIRIA and Butterworth?Heineman.

Performance of blockwork and slabbing protection for dam faces. Herbert D M, Lovenbury H T, Allsop N W H and Reader R A (1995).. HR Wallingford, Report SR 345 49pp.

Design of reinforced grass waterways. Hewlett H W M, Boorman L A and Bramley M E (1987).. CIRIA, Report 116, 115pp.

Floods and reservoir safety: 3rd edition. Institution of Civil Engineers (1996). Thomas Telford, 63pp.

An application note to An engineering guide to seismic risk to dams in the United Kingdom. Institution of Civil Engineers (1998). ICE, 40pp.

An engineering guide to the safety of embankment dams in the United Kingdom. Johnston T A, Millmore J P, Charles J A and Tedd P (1999). Second edition. BRE Report BR 363, 102pp.

Small embankment reservoirs. Kennard M F, Hoskins C G and Fletcher M (1996).. CIRIA Report 161, 445pp.

Engineering guide to the safety of concrete and masonry dam structures in the UK. Kennard M F, Owens C L and Reader R A (1996). CIRIA Report 148, 172pp.

Valves, pipework and associated equipment in dams ? guide to condition assessment. Reader R A, Kennard M F and Hay J (1997). CIRIA Report 170, 160pp.

Reservoir dams: wave conditions, wave overtopping and slab protection. Yarde A J, Banyard L S and Allsop N W H (1996). HR Wallingford Report SR 459, 27pp.

Risk management for UK reservoirs. Hughes A K, Hewlett H W M, Morris M, Sayers P, Moffat A I B, Harding A and Tedd P (2000b).. Report C542. CIRIA, London.

Regulation and risk assessment of reservoir releases – Environment Agency – http://www.environment- agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/WQ_TGN_Part_06.pdf

Guide to risk assessment for reservoir safety managementhttp://www.ice.org.uk/Information-resources/Document-Library/Guide-to-risk-assessment-for-reservoir-safety-mana

 

The guides listed above can be obtained from:

BRE Guides
IHS Rapidoc (BRE Press),
Willoughby Road,
Bracknell,
Berks.
RG12 8FB
Tel: 01344 328038
Fax: 01344 328005
Email: brepress@ihs.com
Website: http://www.BREbookshop.com

CIRIA Guides
Classic House
174-180 Old Street
London
EC1V 9BP
Email: enquiries@ciria.org.uk

ICE Thomas Telford
Book Sales Department
Thomas Telford Ltd
1 Heron Quay
London
W14 4ID
Web site: www.icebookshop.com

HR Wallingford
Howbery Park
Wallingford
Oxfordshire
OX10 8BA
Tel: 01491 835383
Email: info@hrwallingford.co.uk
Web site: www.hrwallingford.co.uk

 

Back to topHistorical Guidance Documents

The BDS is hosting the following reports on their website at the request of Defra to ensure they are freely available to those involved in dams and reservoirs.

In some cases the reports will be out of date or be superseded by later research and as such care should be taken when using the information contained in these documents

Historical Guidance Documents
DEFRA - Supplement to report by Sir David Cox on Review of methodology for extrapolation of extreme rainfall in FEH -2003
DEFRA - Report on comments on 10,000 year return period rainfall posed by DEFRA, RSWG and KBR - Cox
DETR - Sedimentation in storage reservoirs Final report - 2001
DEFRA - Climate change impacts on the safety of British Reservoirs Final report - 2001
DETR - Climate change impacts on the safety of British Reservoirs advice note re rainfall induced instability -2003
DEFRA – Task B - Early detection of internal erosion – Volume 1 of 2 - 2003
DEFRA - Revised Guidance for Panel Engineers on FEH - 2004
Environment Agency - Post incident reporting system for UK dams Final report - 2007
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 1 of 3 Main report - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 2 of 3 Appendices A-H - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 2 of 3 Appendices J & K - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 1 Embedded figures - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 2 Embedded figures - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 1 Section 7 Excel figures - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 1 & 2 Excel figures - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 2 Bibliography - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 3 Appendix J - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration Volume 3 Appendix k - 2002
DEFRA Floods and Reservoir safety integration - Files comprising the this report – 2002
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 1 of 3 Main Guide – 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 1 – Appendix A to D - 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 2 – Appendix E - 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 2 – Appendix F - 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Appendix G - 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 2 – Appendix H - 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 2 – Appendix J & K - 2006
DEFRA Engineering Guide to Emergency Planning for UK reservoirs - Volume 3 -  Completed examples - 2006
DEFRA Note of the anticipated application of the Direction making power
DEFRA Supplement No 1 to interim guide to quantitative risk assessment for UK reservoirs - 2006
DEFRA Real time monitering Rev DRAFT 2.01 2007
DEFRA Task B Early detection of internal erosion - Volume 2 of 2 - 2003
DEFRA Task B Early detection of internal erosion - Annex -2003
DEFRA Early detection of internal erosion Rev DRAFT 2.01 2007

 

Back to topR&D

R&D relating to a wide range of aspects of dam safety and performance is undertaken by many different organisations within the UK each year. The purpose of this R&D is to ensure and maintain high standards of performance and dam and reservoir safety. Funding for this research comes from a variety of sources including UK Government Agencies, the European Commission, Water Utility Companies and other associated companies and organisations with an interest in dams and reservoirs.

Responsibility for reservoir safety R&D for England and Wales has recently transferred to the Environment Agency from DEFRA.  The Environment Agency has established a Reservoir Safety Theme Group to manage this work; this approach being consistent with existing Theme Groups set up under the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management R&D Programme. The Reservoir Safety Theme is managed by Geoff Baxter and Tony Deakin, of the Environment Agency, with a theme advisory group (The Reservoir Safety Advisory Group [RSAG]), drawing on expertise from government, industry and academia to assist in this process.

Whilst existing R&D projects are to continue under Agency management, the Agency has also commissioned a fresh review of reservoir safety R&D and perceived R&D needs to provide the basis for a rolling programme of R&D initiatives. Details of other R&D projects will be provided through both BDS and EA websites in due course.

Defra/ Environment Agency Reservoir Safety Research & Development Strategy

In 2007 Defra commissioned a team led by Atkins to carry out a project which would determine the strategic direction for Reservoir Safety Research and Development in the UK for the next 5 – 15 years.

Part of the project remit was to consult with the reservoir safety profession to ensure that all areas where there was a perceived need for future Reservoir Safety R&D work were considered as part of the study. The list of R&D needs was debated at a two day workshop in early 2008. Participants at the workshop included a number of panel enginemainers, reservoir owners, academics and other prominent members of the profession. The attendees were asked to vote to prioritise the projects that would deliver the R&D work.

The finalised Reservoir Safety Research and Development strategy is available via the following link: http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/pdf/GEHO0309BPRG-e-e.pdf