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

Current Issues

March 2017: Calling All BDS Members Have Your Say About The 2018 BDS Conference

The organising committee for the next British Dam Society conference in Swansea 2018 are considering changes to the conference format in order to increase technical content and provide an element of choice during the afternoon sessions.

The committee would be extremely grateful if you would answer 6 questions regarding the next conference which will assist the planning process.

A link to the questionnaire is shown below:-

Please could all BDS members take 2 minutes to answer the questions and submit their responses by Friday 24th March.

Many thanks

Swansea 2018 BDS Conference Organising Committee


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March 2017: Reservoir Panel Engineer Applications 2017 - Key Dates

Below are the key dates in relation to submitting Reservoir Panel Engineer Applications:

Applications for appointment or re-appointment are emailed to, cc to, and assessed for suitability by the ICE Reservoirs Committee. Applications for reappointment should be sent at least 8 months before expiry.

  • Applications submitted by 30 November 2016 will be assessed and interviewed, if applicable, during week commencing 16 January 2017.
  • Applications submitted by 03 March 2017* will be assessed and interviewed, if applicable, during week commencing 24 April 2017.
  • Applications submitted by 28 August 2017 will be assessed and interviewed, if applicable, during week commending 4 September 2017.

*If you were working to the 30 March 2017 deadline (previously advertised in error), ICE will process your application in this round if it is submitted by 30 March. 

Defra will advise on the outcome of an application in due course following the assessment process.

Further details of the Revised Supervising Engineer Application process and the required forms are available in the October 2016 article "Changes to the Supervising Panel Engineer Application Process" below.


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March 2017: ICOLD Annual Meetings 2017 and 2018

ICOLD is holding it's 85th Annual meeting from 3rd to 7th July 2017 in Prague.

Due to the close proximity and relative ease of travel why not consider attending this prestigious event, the BDS Chairman has written an article (available here) extolling the virtues of attending the ICOLD Annual meetings.


Date for your Diaries,

ICOLD is holding it's 26th Congress and 86th Annual meeting from 29th June 2018 to 7th July 2018 in Vienna.

Due to the close proximity and relative ease of travel why not consider attending this prestigious event or even writing and submitting a paper, the BDS Chairman has written an article (available here) with further details.


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March 2017: Professor Paul Adrian Auchmuty Back CBE FREng FICE 1930 - 2017

It is with regret that we hear of the death of Professor Paul Back. 

He was born and educated in South Africa. He obtained a BSc at Cape Town University in 1951 and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University (Trinity College) and obtained a DPhil (Engineering Science) in 1954.

Having graduated from Trinity College, Oxford (where he later became a Visiting Fellow) he joined Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners, a major consulting civil engineering firm, in 1955, becoming an associate in 1967 and partner in 1970.  He became chief technical director in 1989 when the firm merged with the American company Law (later acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group).

Initially he worked on the design of the Kariba Dam and subsequently joined the Gibb site staff in what was then Southern Rhodesia. Following his return to the UK he was involved with the design of the Latiyan Dam (Iran), major dams on the Orange River in South Africa, the Indus Basin Project, Victoria and Samonellaweewa dams in Sri Lanka, the Drakensberg Pumped Storage Project (South Africa), Katse Dam (Lesotho) and a number of other important hydroelectric dam projects including the Tongariro Hydroelectric Scheme in New Zealand and Lar Dam in Iran.

From 1992 to 1998 he was the Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in the Principles of Civil Engineering Design at the University of Oxford, a role previously held by ICE Past President Edmund Hambly. University staff recall that he was "a real gentleman, very civilised and thoughtful". During his time there, in 1993, he was asked to assess the Peruca Dam in Croatia which had been sabotaged by the Serbs in the Balkan war and which, if breached, would result in the deaths of 20,000 people in a city downstream. He decided that the dam, although damaged, would probably not fail and so the town did not need to be evacuated. In the event the dam held.

He joined the ICE in 1956 as a Graduate member, becoming a Member in 1962 and achieving Fellowship in 1971. He was elected as a Council member from 1989 to 1992 and became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1981. He was awarded a CBE in 1994 for services to Dam Engineering in Developing Countries.

He made a major contribution to all of the projects with which he was involved not least because of his inventiveness and ability to find new technical solutions when the need arose.

He was an inspiration to the numerous young engineers who he helped in many ways.


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February 2017: Condition Assessment of Dams - Case Studies for Nottingham Trent University

Roland Kromanis is a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University who is delivering a new MSc module in Structural Engineering - Condition Assessment and Health monitoring of civil infrastructure.

He has realised that water supply reservoirs are critical national assets and he has therefore included the importance of the condition assessment of dams (including embankment dams) in the module.

He would appreciate good case studies of dam condition assessment and monitoring to use as examples for his students.  Does any BDS member have any condition assessment or monitoring cases studies of dams they could share with him?

Furthermore, part of the coursework focuses on data interpretation, so if anyone has data which needs to be analysed, he suggests it could be given to the students as a project, which may provide you with useful feedback.

If you can offer any help for this course, which could well arouse an interest in dams from some of the students, please contact Roland direct on 


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January 2017: ICOLD Need Your Help - Please Complete A Survey To Assist With New ICOLD Technical Bulletin

BDS is a member of ICOLD, the International Commission on Large Dams, and where possible we contribute to the production of the ICOLD Technical Bulletins that are available to all members.  Many of these bulletins have been summarised in Dams and Reservoirs.

Ken Grubb is the UK representative on the ICOLD Hydromechanical Committee, which is carrying out a survey of incidents and failures that will eventually lead to a new ICOLD Technical Bulletin.

To find out more and take part in the survey please click here.


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January 2017: Bateman Awards 2017

In 2000 the British Dam Society instituted an award to the authors of a paper which made a significant contribution to dam engineering or reservoir development.  Andy Hughes as Chairman at the time, and who was then managing the Longdendale Reservoirs for North West Water (now United Utilities) suggested the award after helping the late Geoffrey Binnie with his many books, and having developed a high regard for the engineering carried out by Bateman.

The award is named after the illustrious Victorian dam engineer John Bateman, and is given for a paper in which at least one of the authors is a member of the BDS.

John Frederic La Trobe Bateman was involved in the construction of reservoirs and waterworks through much of the 19th century, many of which were in northern England, but a number also in Scotland and Ireland.  These included the Loch Katrine works for Glasgow and the Thirlmere Scheme for Manchester.  A full obituary of Mr Bateman is available in the 1889 ICE Proceedings, and available here.

The Bateman Award is made every two years by a small panel of BDS members, with the papers considered having been published in the conference proceedings, as well as in all the issues of Dams and Reservoirs and any other relevant publications from the last two years.  The papers are assessed for technical content, originality and readability.  It is an award rather than a prize, and no nominations are required.

Each author receives a framed picture showing photographs of Mr Bateman and the Longdendale chain of reservoirs just north of Glossop which he designed and built.  A plaque on the frame gives the author's name. 

The panel for the current award comprised Andrew Pepper, Paul Farnell, Liz Rivers and Rachel Davies.  One paper was on everyone's short list, and when the combined short list of papers was scored that paper did indeed gain the highest mark.

That paper, which the panel felt made the most significant contribution to dam engineering or reservoir development in the last two years, was published in the Dams and Reservoirs issue dated August 2015 and was titled 'How prepared are we for a reservoir emergency?' by Gemma Morris and Stephen Shakespeare of Welsh Water.  It is recommended reading for all involved with reservoirs.

The authors were presented with their framed award pictures at the BDS evening meeting in London on 16 January 2017 by the BDS chairman, Dr Andy Hughes (photograph available here).


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January 2017: BDS Announces Sponsorship of Four Arkwright Scholars

As part of the BDS Strategy to promote Dams and Reservoir Engineering and support the new generation of Reservoir Engineers, the BDS is proud to announce its work with the Arkwright Scholarship Trust (see previous news feed for further details).

The BDS has sponsored four Arkwright Scholars whilst they study for their A Levels, further details are available here.


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January 2017: Young Engineers Forum - Mentoring Scheme

On behalf of the Young Engineers Forum (YEF) I would like to thank the individuals who came forward at the BDS Conference in September 2016 to be mentors. We are currently still working on how to best implement the mentoring system and hope to send out further information soon as things develop. Education and Knowledge are two of the core elements of the BDS strategy and it is hoped that the YEF mentoring will work to improve knowledge transfer in the BDS community.

If you are a member of the Supervising Engineer or All Reservoir Panel and could give a small amount of your time to act as a mentor to a young engineer (under 35) who is aspiring to join the Supervising Engineers Panel over the next few years, then it would be greatly appreciated. We understand that there are many companies that have internal mentoring schemes and it would be good to hear about these and learn from any successes.

Also if you are a Young Engineer who would be willing to mentor an A level student as part of the Arkwright scholarship scheme, the BDS have become part of, now or in the future we would like to hear from you. Some information about the Arkwright Scholarships Trust can be seen below and further information is available. This is a great opportunity to increase your mentoring skills and inspire future engineers.

'For 25 years, the Arkwright Scholarships Trust has identified and nurtured future leaders in engineering and technical design. Arkwright's Engineering Scholarships support high-calibre, engineering-minded school students over two years, as they study for their A levels or Scottish Highers. Every Scholarship is sponsored and supported by a sponsoring organisation. This year, The British Dam Society is supporting four Arkwright Scholars with an interest in the built environment and environmental engineering.' 

For more information about the YEF please contact the YEF Chairperson Sam Tudor (

To register as a mentor or a Young Engineer who would like a mentor please email:


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January 2017: BDS Supporting the next generation of Engineers

As part of the BDS Strategy to promote Engineering and support the new generation of Reservoir Engineers, the BDS is proud to announce it is working with the Arkwright Scholarship Trust.

The Arkwright Scholarship Trust identify, inspire and nurture future leaders in Engineering, Computing and technical design, by awarding scholarships to high-calibre students who apply when in year 11 (England and Wales), S4 (Scotland) or Year 12 (Northern Ireland).

The Engineering Scholarships support students through their A Levels or Scottish Advanced Highers and encourage students to pursue Engineering, Computing or technical Design at university or through a higher-level apprenticeship and to pursue careers in the field.

Every Scholarship is sponsored by an industrial company, university, charitable trust, trade association, professional institution, armed service, worshipful company, industry regulator or personal donor.

Find out more about The Arkwright Scholarship Trust by clicking the link here.


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January 2017: Reservoir Safety Post Incident Report 2015

The Environment Agency (EA) collect and record information on incidents at raised reservoirs, both large and small. Large raised reservoirs in England are those covered by the Reservoirs Act 1975.

The EA use this information to:

  • Investigate incidents (where appropriate)
  • Inform the reservoir industry of any trends and key lessons identified
  • Contribute to research into reservoir safety and incident frequency analysis.
  • All incident data is entered onto the national database, which can be used to inform reservoir safety research.

The published 2015 report is available here:

or, the following link opens the EA Reservoir Safety post incident report webpage that contains further details and all the recently published reports:

The EA have advised that their records show there has only been a very limited number of downloads carried out for the 2014 report. In future the .GOV domain is likely to remove data that is not receiving sufficient 'hits' so they cannot guarantee the documents will remain available via the links listed above.


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December 2016: Results of the BDS Photo Competition 2016

The winners of the BDS Photo competition 2016 are as follows:-

  1. Winner: John Ackers - Black Esk Reservoir
  2. Second Place: Alexandra Murphy - Pontsticill Reservoir
  3. Third Place: Newman Booth - Scar House Reservoir

The winning photographs can be viewed here.


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December 2016: New Guidance published - Design, Operation and Adaptation of Reservoirs for Flood Storage

This report provides a comprehensive guide on the development and use of flood storage reservoirs, drawing on good practice in UK and international reservoir planning, design, operation and maintenance.

The guidance is aimed at a wide range of stakeholders including planners, developers, reservoir owners, asset managers, designers, contractors, regulatory engineers / advisers, environmentalists, academic institutions and the public.

Where use is made of flood storage reservoirs, application of the guidance will help to achieve long-term improvement in flood risk management and so help protect human life, property, critical infrastructure and the environment.

The guidance describes contemporary best practice and experience of the design, operation and maintenance of flood storage reservoirs. Existing reservoirs formed originally to secure reliable water supply or to provide some other function can be adapted to provide a flood storage function.

The report covers practical considerations when modifying the use of existing reservoirs for flood storage, but does not consider policy aspects. Case studies and images are used to illustrate best practice and to share practical knowledge from past and existing schemes - their successes, failures and challenges.

Where available, the report references more detailed guidance - drawing on international practices and UK strategy documents, codes, standards and engineering guides.

The report is presented in 6 sections, together with a supporting appendix of more detailed technical information. Text is arranged to guide readers to the sections most relevant to their interests.

The contents include:

  • Planning and preliminary design - describes the typical steps required to develop preliminary design proposals and presents planning and environmental legal considerations,
  • Detailed design - considers design standards, new dams and the modification of existing flood storage dams, landscape and environmental design,
  • Operation and maintenance – describes the requirements for typical structures and devices used in flood storage reservoirs and presents guidance on improving operational reliability and effective monitoring,
  • Adaptation of existing reservoirs for flood storage - gives examples of dual-use reservoir operation, explains the benefits and challenges of adaptation to flood storage and considers the use of obsolete water supply reservoirs for flood risk management,
  • The guidance also contains advice on health and safety management from design to operation and maintenance.

An electronic copy of the guide is freely available from the following link:


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November 2016: 19th Biennial BDS Conference - Accolades

Following the successful 19th BDS conference held at Lancaster University in September 2016 the BDS has received some accolades that can be viewed here.


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October 2016: Changes to the Supervising Panel Engineer Application Process

From 1st October 2016 the Supervising Engineer Panel application process is changing with the provision of dedicated application forms, for new and reappointment applicants, and an attribute based assessment system to appraise candidate suitability.

Please find below links to the new documents.

New Application Documents:

  1. Attributes for Supervising Engineer,
  2. Guidance for those Seeking Appointment to the Supervising Engineer Panel,
  3. RC01 Supervising Engineers Panel – Application for New Appointment,
  4. RC01G Supervising Engineers Panel – Application for New Appointment Guidance,
  5. RC02 Reservoirs Experience Front Page,
  6. RC02 Reservoirs Experience Extra Pages.


Reapplication Documents:

  1. Attributes for Supervising Engineer,
  2. Guidance for those Seeking Appointment to the Supervising Engineer Panel,
  3. RC05 Supervising Engineers Panel – Application for Reappointment,
  4. RC05G Supervising Engineers Panel – Application for Reappointment Guidance,
  5. RC06 Reservoirs Experience Front Page,
  6. RC06 Reservoirs Experience Extra Pages.


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September 2016: Reservoir Safety Action Group - Research and Development Update

The Environment Agency is responsible for reservoir safety R&D in England and Wales and established a Reservoir Safety Theme Group to manage this work under the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management R&D Programme.


Please find attached (here) an update on the research and development programme and a link to the website (here). 


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June 2016: Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 - Important Information

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have produced information leaflets regarding the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 for Reservoir Managers and Panel Engineers.

The leaflets are available via the links below and further information is available on the SEPA Reservoirs page (link here).

Reservoir Managers Leaflet available (here)

Panel Engineers Leaflet available (here)


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May 2016: Reservoirs Act (Scotland) 2011 - Appointment to the Reservoirs Panel

Please note that when applying for reappointment (or first appointments) to reservoirs panels, from 1st April 2016 if you want to be appointed to a panel set up under  Reservoirs Act (Scotland) 2011, you have to fill in a separate form for Scotland, and send to both Scottish government and include it with your application to Defra.  Copies of the form can be downloaded from


The address for the application to the Scottish government is: The Scottish Government, Flood Risk Management Team, Environmental Quality Division, Environment and Forestry Directorate, Area 1D North, Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ. Email:



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April 2016: Comparison of UK Reservoir Legislation

Tony Deakin (FCRM Manager) of the Environment Agency Reservoir Safety Team in Exeter has provided the attached document that compares the different legislation impacts in England, Scotland, Wales and NI.

Click here. 

This document is provided by the BDS for information purposes only. Any queries regarding its content should be directed to Tony Deakin directly (



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April 2016: Amendments to Reservoirs Act 1975 in Wales

Ministerial approval has been received for the introduction of new regulations for the Reservoirs Act 1975 in Wales.

The new regulations comes into force from 1 April 2016 and the main amendments are given below and on a briefing note available here.

 The main amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975 in Wales are: 

  1. The requirement for reservoir undertakers to register their reservoirs with a capacity of 10,000 cubic metres, or more, held above natural ground level, 
  2. A duty on Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to designate reservoirs as high-risk reservoirs where an uncontrolled release of water could endanger human life,
  3. Reservoir undertakers must notify NRW of any incident which may affect the safety of large raised reservoirs.

Further details are available on the Natural Resources Wales website link here.

Full details of the new regulations can be read and downloaded at or via the links below:

The Reservoirs Act 1975 (Capacity, Registration, Prescribed Forms, etc.) (Wales) Regulations 2016,
The Reservoirs Act 1975 (Exemptions, Appeals and Inspections) (Wales) Regulations 2016,
The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (Commencement No. 1 and Transitional Provisions) (Wales) Order 2016.

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