What is BDS?

The British Dam Society (BDS) is an Associated Society of the Institution of Civil Engineers. It consists of individual and corporate members. It is open to anyone wanting to share experience or knowledge of all aspects of dams and reservoirs.


BDS Movie – A Career in Dam Engineering

BDS News

Independent Reservoir Safety Review Report

An independent review of reservoir safety legislation and its application was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2020 and was led by Professor David Balmforth.

The review report, published on 13 May 2021, provides a comprehensive assessment of the current safety regime in England. It makes recommendations for improving the safety regime and to strengthen the roles and responsibilities for the regulator, reservoir owners and engineers.

Reservoir on-site emergency flood plans

A Ministerial Direction to require on-site flood plans for large raised reservoirs in England was issued to all undertakers on 22nd April 2021. A copy of which has been put onto for reference and information.

Here are links to the Ministerial Direction and the associated guidance documents.

Ministerial Direction – requirement for reservoir on-site emergency flood plans

Guidance documents 

Royal Society special issue - Intensification of short-duration rainfall extremes and implications for flash flood risks

Royal Society Publishing has recently published a special issue of Philosophical Transactions A entitled Intensification of short-duration rainfall extremes and implications for flash flood risks organised and edited by Hayley Fowler, Conrad Wasko and Andreas F Prein and the articles can be accessed directly at

Next evening meeting

Our next on-line evening meeting together with the AGM is on 26 April at 6pm. This will be followed by a presentation on Emergency Planning for Reservoirs. Further details including the full list of presenters will be made available on our website shortly.

Extreme flood research

The Environment Agency has started a new project which aims to improve Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) and Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) estimation for reservoir safety.

The project aims to assess the suitability of existing methods for estimating PMP and PMF and develop new methods and guidelines to ensure that we understand the risk posed to our highest risk reservoirs from extreme flood events. You can find further details here. Please click "Read More" for more information.

NRW position statement on risk designation and first inspection of statutory reservoirs in Wales

Natural Resources Wales have recently published an important position statement relating to the processes for risk designation and first inspection of statutory reservoirs of between 10,000 – 25,000m3 capacity. You can find the document here.

ICOLD Call for Mentors

ICOLD are seeking experienced engineers to act as mentors as part of the ICOLD 2021 conference in Marseille to assist our international young professionals. You can find full details here

ICOLD General Assembly

The ICOLD General Assembly met on-line on 30 November 2020. The meeting was chaired by ICOLD President Michael Rogers.

The impact of the pandemic on the activities of ICOLD was discussed. The Annual Meeting scheduled to take place in New Delhi, India has been re-scheduled to 2023. 

Please click 'read more' to see a more detailed summary of the online meeting.

Outcome of the Defra consultation on on-site plans

Defra has published the results on the consultation on on-site plans and presented the Government response. The key points are:

  • On-site plans will be mandatory for all regulated reservoirs (‘high risk’ and ‘not high risk’ reservoirs)
  • The plan requirements will be set with respect to the risk designation.
  • Updated guidance on preparing on-site plans will be developed and published.
  • New reservoir inundation maps will be published in 2021 by the Environment Agency.
  • A strategy for training in relation to emergency planning will be developed.

You can read the full report here

EA and NRW reservoir safety guidance relating to the pandemic

NRW has updated its guidance regarding compliance during Covid-19 restrictions and can be found here. The EA’s advice, published in April, remains valid and can be found here.


NRW also advise that with the increased use of social media to showcase work there is an increased risk that photos, diagrams and other information may reveal sensitive detail and expose vulnerabilities. Even small pieces of information, when pieced together over time can be harmful if accessed by anyone with a malicious intent. Before posting material about reservoir construction or maintenance, you are advised to seek the approval of the reservoir undertaker.

BDS Twitter Feed