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25th February 2019, Glasgow and Warrington Regional Hubs Panel Application Q&A Sessions

On 25th February 2019, there will be a Q&A session to discuss your questions on Panel Application prior to the evening meeting at the following Hubs:

Warrington Hub - open from 17:15 - with Keith Gardiner

Glasgow Hub – open from 17:30 – with Martin Hewitt


See 25th February BDS evening event regional hub details for further information in relation to registration for either of these sessions. Event listings available here.

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Dates For Your Diary - Upcoming Events

Please find below details of upcoming BDS events.

25th February 2019: 18:00 - 19:30:  Comparing Levees With Dams – Finding Common Interest, Location: ICE London, Presenter: Dr Jonathan Simm, HR Wallingford Limited. 

7th March 2019: 10.00 - 17.00:  UK Reservoir Spillway Flood Hydrology (Joint BHS / BDS National Meeting), Location: ICE London, Presenters: Various.

15th April 2019: 18:00 - 19:30:  BDS AGM and Talybont Reservoir – Innovations for Pipework Replacement, Location: ICE London, Presenters: DCWW, MM and Edwards Diving Services.

Further details on the vents page here:

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FINAL REMINDER! ICOLD 2019 Abstracts for Technical Papers and Posters

Abstract submission deadline 19th October 2018.

Theme: Sustainable and Safe Dams Around the World.

Contribute your knowledge to 2019's leading conference on dams. We invite you to submit an abstract for a technical paper or poster to be presented at the International Commission on Large Dams, June 2019 in Ottawa, Canada.

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ICOLD 2019 - Sustainable and Safe Dams Around the World - Call for Abstracts and Technical Papers

Theme: Sustainable and Safe Dams Around the World

The theme will be addressed through technical papers and a poster session presented on the following topics.

1) Innovation

Recent advancements and techniques for investigation, design, construction, operation and maintenance of water or tailings dams and spillways.

2) Sustainable Development

Planning, design, construction, operation, decommissioning and closure management strategies for water resources or tailings dams (e.g. climate change, sedimentation, environmental protection, risk management).

3) Hazards

Design mitigation and management of hazards to water or tailings dams, appurtenant structures, spillways and reservoirs (e.g. floods, seismic, landslides).

4) Extreme Conditions

Management for water or tailings dams (e.g. permafrost and ice loading, arid/wet climates, geo-hazards).

The deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended to 19th October 2018.

Young Professionals (age 35 and under) are especially encouraged to submit papers and posters for the Symposium.

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BDS Photography Competition 2018 is Now Open!

Submit your photographs without delay to be in with a chance of winning the 1st prize of £200; 2nd Prize of £100 or 3rd Prize of £50 and having your photographs published in Dams & Reservoirs and/or used on the BDS website.

Closing date for entries is 7th September 2018 and the winners will be announced at the BDS 20th Biennial Conference.

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Registration for the 20th Biennial BDS Conference Has Now Closed

Registration for the 20th Biennial BDS Conference in Swansea has now closed.

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BDS Conference 2018 - Five days remaining to book

Registration for the 2018 BDS Conference in Swansea closes at midnight on 31st July 2018!


Delegate registrations have now passed 200 and continue to rise! Some site visits and workshops are close to capacity so book now to avoid disappointment.

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BDS Conference 2018 - Ten days remaining to book

Registration for the 2018 BDS Conference in Swansea closes at midnight on 31st July 2018!

Delegate registrations have now passed 200 and continue to rise! Some site visits and workshops are close to capacity so book now to avoid disappointment.

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2018 BDS Conference, Swansea - Registration Closes in 20 Days!

Only 20 days left before registration for the 2018 BDS Conference in Swansea closes! It’s lining up to be a diverse, thought-provoking and stimulating programme with technical sessions, workshops and site visits; not forgetting plenty of networking opportunities. 

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2018 BDS Conference, Swansea - Book now!

Only 28 days left to register for the 2018 BDS Conference in Swansea! Delegate and exhibition registrations are going very well with good participation levels in all of the technical workshops and site visits.

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BDS Conference 2018 Registration

The BDS Conference registration website is open:

Update:  Currently 29 organisations and 11 exhibitors have registered across 5 countries – UK, Germany, South Africa, Netherlands and USA

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ICOLD Circular Letters

ICOLD Circular Letters: The following letters have been circulated by ICOLD Committees for comment:


  • CL 1934 – A paper “Dam Surveillance - Lessons learnt from case histories” submitted by the Committee on Dam Surveillance,
  • CL 1935 – The final agenda of the ICOLD 86th General Assembly is available.

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Internal Erosion Update

Our representative on the ICOLD Embankments Technical Committee, Rod Bridle, has sent the following update:

This year there are two Internal Erosion Meetings, ICSE9 in Taiwan in November and the 26th European Working Group on Internal Erosion (EWGIE) in Milan.

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ICOLD Circular Letters

ICOLD Circular Letters: The following letters have been circulated by ICOLD Committees for comment:

  • CL 1928 – A paper “Blockage of Spillways and Outlet Works” submitted by the Committee on Hydraulics for Dams & the Committee on Flood Evaluation and Dam Safety is being circulated for consideration,
  • CL 1929 – A paper on “Roller-Compacted Concrete Dams” submitted by the Committee on Concrete Dams is being circulated for consideration,
  • CL 1931 – A paper on “Operation of Hydraulic Structures of Dams” submitted by the Committee on Operation, Maintenance and Rehabilitation of Dams is being circulated for consideration,
  • CL 1933 – A paper on “Asphalt Concrete Cores for Embankment Dams” submitted by the Committee on Embankment Dams is being circulated for consideration.

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Be Part of the ICE200 Bicentenary Celebrations

Two hundred videos are being created and promoted on the ICE website on the ‘What is Civil Engineering?’ web pages. View the first 20 already uploaded.

Link to the ICE website here.

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BDS Committee Needs You!

BDS is now looking for nominations to serve on the Committee from the 2018 AGM on 12 March.  This is your opportunity to influence the way that BDS runs; to help organise meetings, visits and competitions, and to encourage a future generation of dam professionals.

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UK Reservoir Engineers Cited in Dam Inspection Special Feature of International Water Power & Dam Construction Publication

The Modern Dam Engineer article in the November editon of the International Water Power & Dam Construction Publication.

Like many industries, the dam industry is influenced by both internal and external factors which can prompt change. IWP&DC was interested in finding out if such elements have affected the engineer's working life when inspecting dams. We asked members of the industry for their own thoughts about the role of the modern dam engineer: Has this changed in recent years? Are engineers faced with increased challenges? And will this role continue to evolve?


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Reservoir Panel Engineer Applications 2018 - Key Dates

Key dates in relation to submitting Reservoir Panel Engineer Applications

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Trial of Regional Hubs Initiative for BDS Prize Event on 20th November 2017

We will be trialling our new "Regional Hub" initiative for the BDS prize meeting on 20th November 2017.  The regional hubs will be hosted by a BDS committee Member and will take the form a networking session in conjunction with watching the live streaming of the BDS prize event being held at the ICE, London.

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Representation of ICOLD Technical Committees

The BDS is currently seeking nominees for UK representatives on specific ICOLD Technical Committees 

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Photography Competition 2017 - Act Now The Closing Date Is Fast Approaching

Submit your photographs without delay to be in with a chance of winning the 1st prize of £200; 2nd Prize of £100 or 3rd Prize of £50 and having your photographs published in Dams and Reservoirs or used on the BDS website.

The BDS Photography Competition is open to members of the BDS and ICE as well as Engineering Students.

Closing date for entries is 3rd November 2017 and the winners will be announced at the BDS meeting on 20th November 2017.

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Message from the BDS Chair

Welcome to the September BDS eNewsletter.

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Defra FD2701 FWMA implementation and SRR Evidence base research

Defra have awarded a contract to Mott MacDonald to review implementation of the Floods and Water Management Act (FWMA) 2010 in England, in particular the risk designation process, and also to review what evidence is available which might justify commencement of the reduction in the threshold to small raised reservoirs (SRR) between 10,000 and 25,000m3

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Natural Resources Wales Guide to Reservoir Safety Charging Scheme

Natural Resources Wales have published a guide detailing their 2017-2018 Reservoir Safety Charging Scheme.

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New research kicks off on the performance of dams under overtopping

There is a recognition of the need to better understand performance of both flood defence and reservoir embankments in resisting erosion under overtopping. In the UK, it is planned in due course to carry out a comprehensive five year research project to include field trials to assess erodibility of grass and soil. This coincides with ICOLD setting up a technical committee on Levees, set up to build upon ongoing collaboration between similar existing committees in the US and Europe. EURCOLD is holding an International Workshop on Embankment and Concrete Dams Overflowing Erosion in France in December, with a number of representatives from the UK attending.

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Reservoirs Act 1975 (England) - Enforcement Authority's Interpretation of The Supervising Engineer's Statement Requirements

The Environment Agency, as Enforcement Authority for England, have produced their interpretation of the Supervising Engineer’s statement requirements under the Reservoirs Act 1975 in England.

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Guide To Drawdown Capacity For Reservoir Safety And Emergency Planning

Message from the Environment Agency.

We are pleased to inform you that the 'Guide to drawdown capacity for reservoir safety and emergency planning' has been published on GOV.UK.  It can be accessed here:


Environment Agency

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ICOLD Circulars

We regularly receive circulars from ICOLD, much of which is administrative, but some is of interest to the wider BDS membership. This Article includes a summary of recently published Technical Bulletins and how BDS Members may obtain access to the bulletins.

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Internal Erosion News

Conference reports:

Rodney Bridle (UK Member ICOLD Technical Committee on Embankment Dams) has recently circulated copies of his informal Internal Erosion News, reporting on internal erosion aspects of Geo-risk 2017 in Denver and ICOLD in Prague (available below).

United States Society on Dams (USSD) note on a Workshop on 'Dry dams and levees' is also attached here, this is another area where internal erosion is a threat.

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Message from BDS Chair

Dear Members of the British Dam Society,

Welcome to the July BDS Membership eNewsletter.

In this eNewsletter, following the 85th Annual Meeting of International Commission on Large Dams, I am delighted to announce the successful nomination of several new members to ICOLD Technical Committees at the General Assembly in Prague. Additionally, there is news of three reports which have been published by ICOLD and will soon be available to BDS Members on the ICOLD website free of charge. Please check the 'ICOLD 2017 Summary Update' news item.

We are currently awaiting clarification of the deadline for submission of abstracts for ICOLD 2018 in Vienna. We have been informed that abstracts should be submitted to ICOLD's Central Office from the BDS Committee. Watch out for further news on this.

Please may I draw your attention to the news item 'Notice of Election of a New Member to the ICE Reservoirs Committee', which provides details on the terms of the appointment and how to apply. From the October 2017 meeting, the Committee wishes to appoint a Supervising Engineer who is to be a representative of reservoir owners.

I would also like to draw members' attention to a UK conference, which may be of relevance to many in our dam engineering community. In June 2018, the 3rd International Conference on Protection against Overtopping will take place in the Lake District and will cover aspects related to the protection of embankments of all types to overtopping and overflowing. The call for papers, and more information about the event is available here:

A reminder that there are currently two BDS competitions running (Young Persons Paper and the Student Paper) and I would encourage all eligible members to participate and those who are not eligible to encourage and support our younger members.  Details of the competitions are included later in this eNewsletter.

Please let us know if you have any news or announcements related to dams and reservoir that you would like to share with the membership in the next eNewsletter.

Tracey Williamson 


Reservoir Panel Engineer System Cited as Model for Fire Safety in Buildings

In the current New Civil Engineer there is an article on the Grenfell Tower incident which references the Panel Engineer system that is used to promote reservoir safety. It questions whether a similar system should be set up to reduce the risk of fire in buildings by certifying qualified risk assessors. This is positive acknowledgement of the success of our national reservoir safety legislation.

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25th Meeting of the ICOLD European Working Group on Internal Erosion

We are delighted to invite you to join us at the 25th meeting of the European Working Group on Internal Erosion in Embankment Dams & their Foundations, held on 4- 7 September 2017 at Deltares in Delft (The Netherlands). The European working group meeting is oriented towards sharing knowledge on internal erosion in dams and levees. The organising committee welcomes national and international speakers and participants from governments, industry, universities and research institutes.

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ICOLD 2017 Summary Update

Over twenty BDS Members attended the 85th Annual Meeting of International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD 2017) last week in Prague. Several new members were appointed to ICOLD Technical Committees at the General Assembly in Prague to act as our UK representatives

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2017 Student Paper Competition - Now Open

This competition is open to students in full-time education under 35 years of age

Participants are invited to visit their local dam and write a short paper on their observations. Participants are encouraged to consider issues such as its use (e.g. water supply / hydropower / flood alleviation / amenity) and the importance of the reservoir to the local community. Participants may also wish to consider: construction type; approximate dimensions; key features e.g. spillway, valves, pipework, tower, tunnel; and details such as the catchment and how the reservoir is fed, and how water is released from the reservoir.

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2017 BDS PRIZE - Young Persons Paper Competition - Now Open

The BDS Prize Competition for young engineers is open to BDS members under 35 years of age on the date of the competition.

The submitted paper (2,500 words) will be on a topic of dam engineering relating to the author's experience in reservoir research, design, construction, operation, maintenance or supervision. Participants must be able to demonstrate that they have undertaken a significant role, relative to their level of experience, in the project or topic.

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3rd International Conference on Protection against Overtopping - Call for Papers

The third iteration of the international 'Protections 2018' conference will be taking place in the Lake District, UK, in June 2018 and is expected to cover many areas of interest to BDS members related to the overflowing and wave overtopping of embankments of all kinds

The call for papers, and more information about the event is available here:

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ICOLD Annual Meeting 2018

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 Past BDS Chairman has written an article (available here) with further details.

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Message from the BDS Chair

Dear Members of the British Dam Society,

Welcome to the June BDS Membership eNewsletter.

In this eNewsletter, we invite you to consider being nominated as a member of one of the ICOLD Technical Committees. With this year's meeting being held in Prague, with cheap flights and accommodation, it's a great opportunity. You can even attend the Committee meetings without paying for the Symposium and other Workshops, if the Conference fee is preventing you from volunteering.  The vacancies with their terms are included below. If you are interested in any of these, please get in touch with our Technical Secretary, Andrew Pepper at:

Additionally, note that an extension has been given for abstracts to be submitted to the BDS Committee for ICOLD 2018 in Vienna.

In April another successful and informative Supervising Engineers' Forum was held at the National Conference Centre in Solihull.  I would like to thank Duncan Scott and all his assistants for their hard work on getting this organised; and thanks to the record number of attendees for their participation in the lively discussions.

Our five 'Strategic Objective Working Groups' have been working hard recently, preparing their Action Plans for achieving the objectives in our recently published Strategy (link here), with the aim to achieve our vision to be "a growing, inclusive and vibrant society; sharing knowledge and improving reservoir safety". We will share these with you in our next eNewsletter.

Please let us know if there is anything dams and reservoir related that you would like to share with the membership in the next eNewsletter.  As an example, there are a number of events concerning Integrated Catchment Delivery (link here) that may well be of interest to BDS members who are involved in the wider aspects of river engineering.

Tracey Williamson 


BDS Young Professionals Steering Group

At the May 2017 BDS Committee meeting it was agreed to change the name of the 'Young Engineers Forum' to 'BDS-Young Professionals', (BDS-YP), as we do not wish to imply that we are limiting membership to engineers only.

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Young Professionals - Mentoring Scheme

On behalf of the Young Professionals (YP) 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 YP mentoring will work to improve knowledge transfer in the BDS community.

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Extension of Deadline For Submitting Abstracts to ICOLD 2018


A recent ICOLD Circular Letter has provided some guidance for National Committees including new rules for paper submissions to the combined 26th Congress & 86th ICOLD Annual Meeting in Vienna in July 2018.

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Message from the Incoming BDS Chairman

Dear Members of the British Dam Society

I would like to start by recognising the contribution over the last two years of Andy Hughes, the outgoing BDS Chairman. I'd like to welcome our new Vice Chairman, Alan Warren, along with our new Committee Member, Catherine O'Sullivan. I look forward to working with the Committee over the next two years and would like to thank them for making this commitment to the BDS and the profession.

The Committee will be working towards achieving the five objectives in our recently published Strategy (link here), with the aim to achieve our vision to be "a growing, inclusive and vibrant society; sharing knowledge and improving reservoir safety". We will provide an update on the planned work of the 'Strategic Objective Working Groups' in our next eNewsletter.

This month's eNewsletter includes updates on the recently published Defra Reservoir Safety Research Strategy and some draft Reports from ICOLD that are now ready for member comment and feedback.  We would urge you to contribute to these.

There is some information about the next two ICOLD events and how to get involved with these. If you are interested in being nominated as a member of one of the ICOLD Technical Committees, please get in touch with our Technical Secretary, Andrew Pepper at:

Finally, we are looking forward to this year's Supervising Engineers' Forum being held this month in the National Conference Centre in Solihull. Preparations are under way for an informative and successful forum, and I would like to thank Duncan Scott for his hard work on getting this organised.

Tracey Williamson


Review of Three Draft Reports for ICOLD Technical Committees

As a National Committee of ICOLD, BDS has been invited to comment on three draft reports that have been prepared by ICOLD Technical Committees. These are listed below along with the date by which each committee would like to receive comments:

  • Technical Advancements In Spillway Design - Progress and Innovations from 1985 to 2015 (203pp) - comments by 16 May 2017,
  • Integrated Operation of Hydropower Stations and Reservoirs (93pp) - comments by 23 May 2017,
  • Action Plan On Capacity Building (32pp) - comments by 31 May 2017.

We would encourage BDS members to contribute to the BDS responses.  If you can help please contact Andrew Pepper, the BDS Technical Secretary for a copy of the relevant draft report and details of how to provide your comments.


14th ICOLD International Benchmark Workshop on Numerical Analysis of Dams

The 14th ICOLD International Benchmark Workshop on Numerical Analysis of Dams is hosted by KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in September 2017. We have had an overwhelming interest in the benchmark workshop, and due to this, the venue for the workshop has been updated to a larger conference venue (Hotel Birger Jarl close to KTH).

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Reservoir Safety Research Strategy

A process of review and consultation has been used to refresh the Defra strategy for conducting research on reservoir safety. The new strategy provides recommendations for the UK reservoir community for research priorities over the next 5 or more years. The new strategy aims to help Defra, the Environment Agency and its advisers in developing detailed scoping statements for future projects and in commissioning appropriate research contracts to meet the needs of the reservoir industry and to promote good practice.

The updated Reservoir Safety Research Strategy is available via the EA website at

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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 Past 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 Past BDS Chairman has written an article (available here) with further details.


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.


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.

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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).


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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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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). 


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)


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:



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.

Message from Sir John Armitt, President, Institution Of Civil Engineers Call for Evidence to the National Needs Assessment

I am delighted to invite you to submit evidence to the National Needs Assessment (NNA) project, which I am chairing on behalf of a coalition of industry, business, utilities and environmental groups.

Along with many other organisations, I have long argued for an evidence-based, long-term strategy to help policy-makers with the often difficult and controversial infrastructure decisions they have to take. Since Summer 2015, I have been working with a coalition of organisations – the NNA Executive Group - to deliver a long term assessment for the UK’s infrastructure.  We are now seeking your help in setting the context for the National Needs Assessment report and to inform the evidence base for the research.

Your evidence is important to us and I hope you will contribute to this important piece of work.  To find the call for evidence questions, posed by the NNA Executive Group, please visit the ICE website. You can also find more information about the coalition.

The call for evidence will close at 5pm on Monday 29th February 2016.

I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to review our questions and provide evidence. If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Wescott, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at

With my best wishes

Sir John Armitt

President, Institution of Civil Engineers

Please Check Your Registered Email Address

Dear BDS Members/ Enews subscribers

We are currently receiving circa 220 returned emails following the distribution of the Ezines and Enews emails. We assume that these addresses are now obsolete and intend to remove them from the database at the end of January 2016.

Therefore please could you log in to the members area of the BDS website (link here) and check if the email addresses assigned to you need amending.

Thank you for your assistance with this matter.


                BDS Website Manager

The Civil Engineering Triennial Summit 2015

The Civil Engineering Triennial Summit returns to London for the first time in a decade on 9th and 10th December 2015.

The topic of the summit is:Resilience and Growth for Future Cities and will connect decision makers and the investment community from around the world with engineers, technology experts and built environment professionals at the forefront of civic resilience. 

Representing three global engineering institutions, ICE, ASCE and the CSCE the event is a unique opportunity for the profession to come together and address some of the global challenges engineers face.

For further details see the flyer here.

 There is a 20% discount available for BDS members, please request details from Tim Fuller 

Updated Bibliographies

Dr Paul Tedd and Dr Andrew Charles have recently updated two bibliographies, which can be found in the Members' area of the BDS website (Publications and Bibliography page).

One is a bibliography of all conference papers to date, and the other is a bibliography which it is hoped includes all known papers on UK dams.

It is the latter that Paul and Andrew would appreciate your help with.  If you are aware of a paper about a UK dam that has been omitted please e-mail Paul Tedd on  to provide him with the details.


Results of BDS Prize and Photo Competition

The final of the BDS prize was held at the ICE, London on Monday 16th November 2015. The BDS Prize is a technical paper competition for engineers below the age of 35. The three finalists presented their work in front of an audience of reservoir panel engineers and BDS members the results were as follows:-

  1. Winner: Kate Speirs (MMB) - Spillway Design Innovation: Pre-cast Concrete “U-Sections” & Rail Installation System
  2. Second Place: Rhys Coombs  (MWH) - A comparison of physical scale models, CFD models, and observed events at the original spillway of a UK dam
  3. Third Place: Chris Oates (GHD Livigunn) - Integration and Innovation – Combined Temporary and Permanent Work Design Swinden & Lee Green Impounding Reservoir Spillway Upgrades


The winners of the BDS Photo competition were also announced on the night and the results are as follows:-

  1. Winner: James Parkhurst -Craig Goch Dam
  2. Second Place:Stewart Roberts - Glencorse Reservoir
  3. Third Place:Ross Morrin - Daer Reservoir


 A recording of this meeting is available using the link on the BDS Meetings Page 'Listen Again' section.

Autumn Update on Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management R&D Programme

Reservoir Safety Research and Development News.

The EA have published a brief update on current and planned research projects on reservoir safety by the Joint Defra / Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) R&D Programme.

Update available here or via website here.

Update Synopsis below.

Current research projects:

  • Guidance on reservoir conduits (including tunnels, culverts and pipes) - This project is developing guidance for reservoir owners and operators on the inspection, monitoring, investigation, maintenance and repair of reservoir conduits.
  • Investigating the structural safety of cracked concrete dams - The assessment of cracks in dams needs to consider the specifics of the design and construction of each dam and its environment. No two dams are the same, so no simple general rules can be defined.
  • Reservoir Safety Research Strategy - The Reservoir Safety Research Strategy published in 2008 is out-of-date and needs to be refreshed to reflect current priorities.
  • Guide to Drawdown Capacity for Reservoir Safety and Emergency Planning - The Environment Agency is currently working on a project looking at the optimum hydraulic capacity of low-level outlets for reservoirs.
  • Design, Operation & Adaptation of Reservoirs for Flood Storage - The Environment Agency is developing new guidance on reservoirs for flood storage, under its project "Design, Operation and Adaptation of Reservoirs for Flood Storage".

Planned Research

  • Performance of grass and soil in resisting erosion - One of the ways in which an embankment dam or flood embankment can fail is through failure of the grass cover and erosion of the embankment soil, whether via overflowing, overtopping or internal erosion. The rate of erosion - and hence the speed of failure and nature of any flood hydrograph generated by a release of stored water - depends on the performance of the grass cover and the soil erodibility.
  • Dambreak analysis - Understanding and predicting the process by which reservoirs may fail catastrophically is fundamental to how we manage the risk involved.   

Best Practice For Sediment Management for Reservoirs and River Impoundments

A collaborative, UKWIR project, has just started that will be of great interest to reservoir owners, operators and Panel Engineers.

Dams form a barrier to sediment continuity and under the Water Framework Directive reservoirs are considered as "heavily modified water bodies".

The project is being funded and managed by UK Water Industry Research Ltd. (UKWIR).

A project scoping meeting was held in London on 9th September and was attended by representatives from most English, Welsh and Scottish water companies and regulators.  The project plans to include Northern Ireland representatives and outcomes will be applicable well beyond the Water Industry.

As the sole reservoir engineer present at the scoping meeting, I made clear our concerns over the need to be able to routinely operate scour valves.  There was consensus around the room that this was a national problem both from a consenting and operational perspective and I am encouraged to report that it will be addressed through the project as well.

The forum included several case studies. A lot of good work has already been achieved on sediment management and clearance particularly by United Utilities. During his presentation, Matt Buckley (UU), did stress that up to 5 years communication, consultation and negotiations had preceded some UU de-silting schemes.

Understandably siltation problems differ between upland and lowland catchments and these will both be addressed through the project.

I plan to provide a further update once the project scope and programme are fully defined.

In the interim if you wish to engage further with the project please contact Neil Whiter the UKWIR Project Manager at:

Ian Hope

Severn Trent Water

Scottish Reservoirs Charging Scheme 2015 to 2018

As previously communicated, SEPA published a consultation on a proposed new charging scheme under the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011.

This consultation ran from 15 May until 10 July 2015. SEPA have now published an analysis report of the consultation responses and have written individually to all those who responded. Both the analysis report and summary letter of conclusions and planned actions are published on the SEPA website here or they can also be accessed via the SEPA 'Citizen Space' portal here.

The Reservoirs Charging scheme 2015-2018 has now been published on the SEPA website and is available here.

Small enterprise, great inspiration: Dove Stone Hydropower

This is the story of a small-scale community enterprise tucked away in the Peak District - but one that shows what can be achieved by working together, and how we can take little steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Dove Stone Reservoir sits in the parish of Saddleworth, on the edge of the Peak District national park. The team at Saddleworth Community Hydro has invested in retrofitting an existing 30m high head dam at the reservoir site. The £0.5 million scheme now generates 46kW of hydro-electricity continuously, distributed via the National Grid.

For further details visit the blog article here.

CIRIA Guide Launch - Effective asset management of dam & reservoir conduits

On Thursday 10th September 2015 (14:30 to 17:15) a dissemination event will be held in London (venue to be confirmed).

The event will feature an overview of the guide from the Research Team as well as presentations on reservoirs highlighted by case studies in the guide.

Further details on the event can be found here, or on the CIRIA website:

Scottish Reservoirs Charging Scheme Consultation - Reservoir Managers' Views Required

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has launched a consultation to seek Reservoir Managers' views on the proposed new charging scheme for reservoir safety which is planned to be introduced on 1 October 2015.

SEPA is required to fully recover the direct regulatory and administrative costs of carrying out its duties under the Reservoirs (Scotland) 2011 Act and it is proposed that these will be recovered from fees and charges, in accordance with the 2011 Act and the Reservoirs (Scotland) Regulations 2015.

The consultation, which is a statutory obligation under the 2011 Act, seeks to gain feedback from reservoir operators on a range of charges including the proposed level of registration fee (out with the initial 6 month free registration period), annual subsistence costs and other charges.

The consultation will run until Friday 10 July 2015.

For more information about the consultation and to submit your response visit SEPA's website.

Procrastination Over Legislative Change

Following the extreme flooding in 2007,  Sir Michael Pitt was appointed by the government to consider how to improve the country's resilience.

He took evidence from many of those affected and industry experts,  including leading panel engineers.  He recognised the need to regulate the Small Raised Reservoirs (SRRs) that constitute a risk to those living and working downstream in the inundation shadow cast by the dam.

For reservoirs,  the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 enshrines the outcome of this process,  but a key component of this legislative change has stalled.

Since the Act was passed Defra has delayed the introduction of this part of the Act seeking "further evidence".  Both the EA and BDS have provided this.  We have written and met with Defra to urge them to progress with these logical changes.

It is with some considerable frustration that I have read the following announcement from Defra which I believe to be politically driven.  We will be unrelenting in our drive to improve the resilience of these structures by urging Defra to complete the logical process initiated by the independent lead they appointed,  Sir Michael Pitt.

Ian Hope Chair of BDS

"Dear all,
We would like to draw your attention to a briefing note that has been published today,  announcing a recent Ministerial decision not to extend reservoir safety regulations to cover smaller reservoirs at the present time.  The note is aimed at reservoir owners,  engineers and other parties who have an interest in reservoir safety policy in England.

Briefing Note from Defra available here

As explained in the briefing note,  Defra intends to work with the engineering community and other interested parties to inform a future decision on whether or not to regulate smaller reservoirs.  To this end, we intend to hold a meeting after the election to review the gaps in the existing evidence base and how best to address them.  We will invite representatives of interested stakeholder groups,  including the engineering,  farming and reservoir owning communities. Regards,

Jon Bowers

FloodEmergency Planning,  Infrastructure and Reservoirs Team

Dept. for the Environment,  Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)"

The New Chris Binnie Award to Recognise Work in the Water Sector that has Benefited Society

The award has been commissioned by ICE's Water Expert Panel and is sponsored by long-serving Panel member and ICE fellow,  Professor Chris Binnie.

The Chris Binnie Award for Sustainable Water Management can be entered by individuals or organisations,  including water companies,  consultants,  contractors,  research bodies,  regulators,  governments and community groups.

It is open to any engineering project,  programme of works,  policy,  or piece of research which you think deserves acclaim.

Projects and initiatives from around the world can be entered,  although they must be completed by 1 May 2015.

You don't have to be an ICE member to enter.

 For further details and to enter please visit the ICE website, link available here

2014 Competition Results

The results of the 2014 Photography competition:

1st Prize: Ali Uromeihy - Karoon-3 Dam Iran,

2nd Prize: Kate Speirs - Widdop,

3rd Prize: Mark Cooper - Pontsticill.


The results of the 2014 Student competition:

1st Prize: Max James from Bristol University,

2nd Prize: Robert Henley from Bristol University,

3rd Prize: Zong Hao Tan from Warwick University.


For further information, please visit the Competitions page:

Reservoir Safety R&D News

The Environment Agency Reservoir Safety Team has supplied the attached document to provide a brief update on the following joint Defra / EA Reservoir Safety R&D projects:

Recently Completed Research

  • Risk Assessment for Reservoirs
  • Lessons Learned from Dam Incidents
  • Modes of Dam Failure and Monitoring and Measurement Techniques

On-going Research

  • Guidance on Reservoir Conduits
  • Investigating the Structural Safety of Cracked Concrete Dams
  • Determining the Optimum Hydraulic Capacity of Low-Level Outlets for Reservoirs

Research due for Commencement

  • Guidance on the Design of Flood Storage Reservoirs
  • The Performance of Grass and Soil in Resisting Erosion

The full document is available here.

Reservoir Safety in Wales - Welsh Government Consultation

The Welsh Government's consultation on the process for bringing into force the amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975 has now started and will end on 13th August 2014.

This consultation (document available here) seeks views on how to bring Schedule 4 to the Flood and Water Management Act in Wales into force.  This makes amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975.  It is proposed that the whole of Schedule 4 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 comes into force in one go in Wales.  This means that the 1975 Act, as amended by the 2010 Act will apply to all large raised reservoirs with a capacity of over 10,000 cubic metres immediately.  This is about 4 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Responsibility for the enforcement of reservoir safety in Wales rests with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and they will be responsible for identifying the reservoirs that are at risk.  High risk reservoirs are those where human life would be in danger should there be an uncontrolled release of water.

Comments on these proposals are welcomed.  All responses, including alternative suggestions to the preferred option, will be considered.

For further details and to respond please visit the Welsh Government website here

The consultation will end on 13 August 2014.


Defra Contact Details

We have been advised that during the amalgamation of the Government web sites to "" some of the web links were broken.

The web page relating to Reservoir safety can be found here.


The Defra Reservoir Safety team can be contacted via the following email address


Changes to the Reservoir Act 1975 in England - Information for Reservoir Owners, Operators and Panel Engineers

Schedule 4 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 made a number of changes to the Reservoirs Act 1975 ('the Act').    These changes came into force in England in July 2013.

The note attached here provides information on the main changes and how they may affect you.

Defra and the Institution of Civil Engineers are due to publish a revised guide to the Reservoirs Act 1975 in August 2014.

ICOLD and ICID response to criticism of Large Dams

Joint Letter from ICOLD and ICID to the World Bank in repsonse to criticism of large dams availabe here.

Dale Dyke Memorial Plaque Unveiled

On Wednesday 12th March Ian Hope, Chair of the British Dam Society, unveiled an evocative sculpture with annotated plaque to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Dale Dyke disaster. This dam failure was the biggest disaster of its kind in our history and led to the tragic loss of at least 250 lives.

Memorial Plaque Picture 

In setting the scene Ian placed the early Victorian reservoir building programme into context with the rapid industrial expansion and dire public health needs of the day. Sheffield itself had suffered a number of well documented cholera outbreaks reinforcing the demand for safe drinking water and proper sanitation. The Dale Dyke reservoir was constructed by the Sheffield Waterworks Company following an 1853 Act of Parliament.  In stark contrast to today the Company was not regulated in this activity and was itself able to design, supervise construction and potentially operate the reservoir without independent oversight.

Immediately on completion of construction, the "300 yard long, 85 feet high" dam failed on first filling, exposing inherent weaknesses. The dam was unable to withstand the forces of the full reservoir which were further compounded by a storm event.

There is considerable conjecture as to the cause. As engineers our forensic instincts will remain frustrated! We do know that there were a number of signs we would attribute to degradation of the core by internal erosion - a "whirlpool upstream" and "cracking of the downstream face".  The dam failed during the night when appraisal under candle light would have been unlikely to shed light on the true failure mechanism.

The history of the disaster and post-event hearings brought vested interests and human behaviour into play. The scene was set for a tense and intriguing drama. Clearly Sheffield Waterworks Company was protective of its position and commendably did stand by its employees, principally the Chief Engineer, John Gunsen.  Arguably, had the coroner been less zealous with his corrosive, opinionated, directive approach perhaps the real causes would have been laid open for analysis.

Whilst there remains scant evidence as to the true cause of the failure, we are led to question whether the pressurised pipes through the body of the dam contributed to the failure. We do know that their presence would have created an inherent threat and later designs were to avoid this feature.

Certainly Hawksley, responsible for later dam construction, adopted a far more conservative approach to the construction of neighbouring structures. He undoubtedly had a greater insight as to the cause of failure, being responsible for the demolition of the remaining Dale Dyke dam structure and able to examine key features such as the integral pipework.  He steadfastedly protected the interests of his clients and did not publically admit that the Dale Dyke dam had any defects.These days beyond the internet more information can be found in Geoffrey Binnie's book "Early dam builders in Britain" and geotechnical analysis by the late Peter Vaughan. Dr Andy Hughes, BDS Vice Chair, is conducting a series of talks on the subject (please see BDS website meetings page for further information).  

As an industry we have learnt a great deal from this and other similar tragic events in Victorian times. Our confidence in the significantly increased safety of our dams today comes from the continued vigilance employed by owners and the supervision by properly trained and qualified engineers who form the membership of the British Dam Society. The Reservoirs Act 1975 provides further structured safeguards ensuring the independence of crucial engineering roles which are also detached from direct employment of the owner. Ian Hope Chair British Dam Society.

See how the unveiling of the memorial was reported by the South Yorkshire Times here

Watch Ian Hope (British Dam Society) & Newman Booth (Yorkshire Water) explain the background behind the memorial on YouTube here. 

British Dam Society - Now on Twitter!

The British Dam Society is now on Twitter! For all our latest news follow us on @BritishDams

The Environment Agency website is changing

The Environment Agency website is closing in April 2014. They are one of hundreds of government websites moving to over the next few months. GOV.UK will make it simpler, clearer and faster to find information from government.

The following document explains the changes that are happening. Click here.

Environment Agency - Update to reservoir flood maps

The Environment Agency are currently making changes to reservoir flood maps. The following statement has been issued by them regarding the changes that will be taking place.

'The Flood Risk Regulations require the Environment Agency to produce and publish reservoir flood maps, including information on the depth and velocity of flooding that would result from reservoir failure. These maps will be available on our website by the end of March.

We have prepared a briefing note for reservoir owners to tell them what is happening with the Risk of Flooding from Reservoirs map and how they will be used by us and partners.   The Reservoir Flood Maps were produced in 2008/09.  Large raised reservoirs built or completed since that date may not yet have been mapped.   Please find the briefing note attached here.'

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 (

BDS Prize Winner - 18th Nov 2013

The final of the BDS prize was held at the ICE, London on Monday 18th November 2013. The BDS Prize is a technical paper competition for engineers below 35. The four finalists presented their work in front of an audience of reservoir panel reservoirs and the results were as follows:-

Chris Vyse - Llyn Alaw Reservoir Post-tensioned Anchor Installation 

Second Place:
Andy Courtnadge - Worth Farm Flood Detention Reservoir - Challenges during Construction 

Third Place:
Andrew Thompson - Tube-a-manchette grouting at Upper Rivington Reservoir 
Marika Tietavainen - Scour Valve Replacement 
A recording of this meeting is available using the link on the BDS Meetings Page 'Listen Again' section. 

Flood & Water Management Act 2010 - Reservoirs legislation commencement date

Chairman of the BDS, Mr Ian Hope has recently sent the following message to members and referenced an ICE press release on delays in the implementation of the changes to the Reservoirs Act 1975

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Small Raised Reservoirs - BDS Evidence to Defra & Environment Agency

The UK is witnessing a time of change for reservoir regulation with an inconsistent approach to the regulation of reservoirs emerging across the 4 countries.

In England the government have taken an unusual step in stalling the introduction of previously planned changes by asking for further evidence. The BDS has responded to this request by assembling evidence of incidents, accidents and the risks posed by Small Raised Reservoirs.

A copy of the evidence submitted to defra and the Environment Agency can be found here.

Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 - Consultation

The Scottish Government have issued a consultation document discussing their proposals for the necessary secondary legislation required to commence a number of sections of The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011.  

Responses on the consultation are required by 26 July 2013.  

The consultation document can be accessed at:

The latest proposed programme for commencement of the Act is also summarised in the consultation document.

Reservoirs legislation commencement date - Update

The BDS has received the following email from Defra regarding the Flood & Water Management Act 2010 - reservoirs legislation commencement date.

You may be aware that commencement of amendments the Reservoirs Act 1975 by Schedule 4 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 did not happen on 6 April 2013 as envisaged previously.

The new programme is to implement the Phase 1 amendments of the Reservoirs Act 1975, which will apply only to those reservoirs that are currently regulated (that is with a capacity greater than 25,000 cubic metres), by the end of June 2013.  The Statutory Instruments that have to be debated by both Houses of Parliament were laid before Parliament on 26 March 2013, which makes this programme achievable.  Commencement will be earlier if Parliamentary processes permit.  

We will advise the firm commencement date once that is fixed.


Response from Mr Richard Benyon MP - 14th Nov 2012

The British Dam Society Chairmain, Martin Airey, recently wrote to the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Mr Richard Benyon MP, voicing concern and frustration at what appears to be very slow progress with the changes to the Reservoirs Act 1975 which were proposed following the considered and evidenced report by Sir Michael Pitt.

Mr Richard Benyon MP replied to these concerns in a letter dated 14th November 2012. A copy of this letter can be seen here.


BDS letter to Richard Benyon MP - Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries

The British Dam Society Chairmain, Martin Airey, recently wrote to the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Mr Richard Benyon MP, voicing concern and frustration at what appears to be very slow progress with the changes to the Reservoirs Act 1975 which were proposed following the considered and evidenced report by Sir Michael Pitt.

A copy of this letter is available here.

Study tour to the Thames Barrier & several hydroelectric schemes in Scotland

London & Scotland Study Tour: 19-25 May 2013
As a result of a number of requests the British Dam Society is organising a study tour which will visit a number of hydro schemes in Scotland and the Thames Barrier. The trip, which is all inclusive, seeks to visit some very interesting civil engineering structures whilst also visiting some very scenic areas of the UK. Further details of the trip and a preliminary programme can be found on the attached information sheet.
Those interested in joining the study tour should contact Dr Andy Hughes (01372 756287) or Mrs Barbara Sharp (01372 756838) by 1st October 2012. The dates of this study tour may be subject to change so not to coincide with possible ICOLD events. Please note that the trip will only run with a minimum number of 30 people. 

BDS Response to EA Consultation on High Risk Reservoirs in England & Wales

Recently the Environment Agency undertook an online consultation on the topic of High Risk Reservoirs in England and Wales. This consultation process finished on 23rd February 2012.
The BDS responded to the EA with its opinions of the proposed methodlogy. The response submitted by the BDS can be found here.
All responses submitted to the EA can be viewed in the consultation portal using the following link:-

Consultation on changes to the Reservoirs Act 1975

Consultation on the Implementation of Amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975
The UK and the Welsh Governments have launched their consultation on the proposed contents and timetable for the secondary legislation for implementing the amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975. The consultation can be accessed from the Defra website either through the direct link
The consultation can also be found on the Welsh Government website through
The consultation expires on 17 May 2012 and seeks views against specific questions under the following headings:
Large Raised Reservoirs: Capacity, Exemptions & Registration
Monitoring, Supervision & Inspections
Construction, Alteration, Abandonment & Discontinuance
Flood Plans
Panels of Engineers & Engineer Reports
Criminal Sanctions
Expenses & Charging
Other matters

Lessons from historical dam incidents

New research published on lessons from historical dam incidents

The Environment Agency has recently published the research report on 'Lessons from historical dam incidents'. This is now available on the Agency's website:

The report was prepared for the Agency by Halcrow Group Ltd working in collaboration with Dr Andrew Charles and Dr Paul Tedd of the Building Research Establishment. It provides a useful reference of key facts and points of learning from more than 100 incidents that have shaped reservoir safety legislation, design practices and construction methods.

This report aims to provide a useful reference for all those involved in reservoir safety including technicians, engineers and managers involved in the operation, monitoring and surveillance of dams, researchers, and design engineers. It is likely to be viewed as an essential reference for aspiring and current panel engineers.

The focus of the report is on incidents at dams that have occurred in Great Britain but some reference is made to some important international incidents. Drawing from international experience is particularly helpful for those types of dam not commonly found in Great Britain.

The introductory section covers the national incident database and the value of post-incident reporting and investigations. Section 2 gives a historical overview which shows how serious incidents have improved our understanding of dam behaviour and the hazards posed by dams. Section 3 shows the close links between historical incidents and failures and the development of reservoir safety legislation and guidance. Section 4 looks at how incidents have been managed, including the role of owners and panel engineers. The significance of drawdown rates and other provisions for dam incidents such as evacuation planning are presented. Four examples of incident management are described: the incidents at Ogston, Rivington Upper, Ulley and Maich Water.

Section 5 represents the major part of research output. It provides an overview of serious incidents and a classification and brief analysis of the modes of failure. This is followed by descriptions of over thirty major incidents and summaries of seventy other incidents. Photographs and drawings have been provided where possible, together with references to the technical papers and articles for additional information. The incidents have been grouped according to the type of incident or mode of failure to facilitate the use of the report as a look-up reference for specific types of reservoir safety problems.

The ability of the reservoir industry to gather and disseminate points of learning on dam incidents is only possible through the willingness of dam owners, operators and engineers to share information in an open manner. The Agency continues to administer the national post-incident reporting database and to gather information on incidents. Incidents can be reported to the Agency's reservoir safety team in Exeter (, tel: 01392 442001). Live incidents should be reported to the incident hotline on 0800 807060. An annual report is published on the Agency website and the latest report can be found at:


Alan Warren, Halcrow Group Ltd

Risk Assessments for Reservoirs

The Environment Agency has commissioned the Risk Assessments for Reservoirs project - industry feedback is sought...

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Pitt Review and proposals for legislative change

The Pitt Review of 2008 included Chapter 19 on the Effective Management of Dams and Reservoirs. In response to the review the Environment Agency put forward proposed changes to the Reservoirs Act 1975 to Defra. The principal proposed change is to introduce a risk-based approach to the legislation and ensure that those currently unregulated reservoirs that constitute a significant risk are managed.

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Reservoir flood plans and inundation maps

The Water Act 2003 amended the Reservoirs Act 1975 to include the requirement for reservoir flood plans. As part of his extensive review following the floods of 2007, Sir Michael Pitt recognised the need for inundation maps to be provided to local resilience forums.

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The future of flood risk management in Scotland

On 13th February 2008, the Scottish Government launched a Flooding Bill Consultation aiming to modernise the flood risk management system in Scotland.

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