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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.

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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 

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Next evening meeting

Our next evening meeting with be The History of Thames Water Reservoirs on Monday 12th July 2021 at 6pm. This meeting will be an on-line only event.


Further details including the full list of presenters and the necessary links will be made available on our website shortly.

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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

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Update on the Toddbrook Part A review recommendations from the EA

We have a message from Tony Deakin, Head of Reservoir Safety, Environment Agency which provides an update on the work arising from Part A of the Toddbrook review. Tony’s message is reproduced below.

“You may recall the actions as a result of Part A of the independent review into the 2019 Toddbrook Reservoir spillway failure by Prof David Balmforth.

At that time I set out a plan to respond to the Part A recommendations as follows:

  • Deliverable 1 – Spillway Design Guide
  • Deliverable 2 – Spillway Inspection Guide
  • Deliverable 3 – Spillway Failure Mechanisms Research
  • Deliverable 4 – Guidance on the contents of a well-structured package of information on the reservoir
  • Deliverable 5 – Guidance to Inspecting Engineers
  • Deliverable 6 - Guidance to Supervising Engineers
  • Deliverable 7 – Guidance to Owners

The team which supporting me to deliver this plan:

Kieron Kenny –

Viktor Pavlov –

Eddie Robinson –

Tim Daly –

Many of you have already responded to my initial request and have generously offered your support to develop this guidance, for which I am grateful.  If you did respond and haven’t already been contacted by my team, then you should expect to be contacted in the next few weeks.  If you haven’t responded and would like to be involved, please get in touch with me or one of my team.  It’s important that this guidance is developed collaboratively by a representative cross section of the reservoir community and your support is necessary to achieve this.

Part B of the independent review will consider the legislative and regulatory framework which governs the management of reservoirs in England.  In anticipation of potential changes to legislation as a result of this review, we have adapted our plan and now intend to publish deliverables 4, 5, 6 and 7 as interim guidance, which will respond specifically to the recommendations of the Part A review, pending the future introduction of new or updated legislation.

My team has been busy developing the necessary plans to prepare and publish this guidance in the late summer/early autumn of this year and look forward to engaging with those of you who so generously offer your time.“

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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.

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Next evening meeting

Our next on-line evening meeting is on 1 March at 6pm. Peter Mason will be presenting on “Concrete spillways – inspections and defects”.

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ICOLD Congress postponed

ICOLD has advised that the Congress in Marseilles has been postponed until 12-19 November 2021 on account of the pandemic.

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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.

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Election of new BDS Chair and Vice Chair

I am pleased to announce that David Littlemore has been elected by the BDS Committee to stand as the next BDS Chair with effect from the AGM on 26 April. Rachel Davies has been elected as the next Vice-Chair. Congratulations on your new roles!

Dams and Reservoirs Editor

We have a new editor of our journal Dams & Reservoirs. Anthea Peters has been our editor for many years and we would like to thank her for the fantastic contribution she has made in securing interesting content for our journal. The new editor is Andrew Pepper who once served on the Committee as our Technical Secretary and is very familiar with our industry and the needs of the membership. 

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Nominations for new BDS Committee members

Members should have received nomination forms for new membership of the BDS Committee and the Young Professionals Group. We have many spaces available on the committee from April to replace elected members who have completed their term. The deadline for nominations is 29 March. We hope you will consider actively contributing to the BDS.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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January 2021 evening meeting

Our next evening meeting (on-line) will be on Monday 11 January on “The use of dam break risk curves to optimise an ALARP assessment” presented by Hermann Stehle, Jon Holland, Rhys Coombs and Tom Wanner. The full details can be found here.

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Dams and Reservoirs Journal – position of editor

Anthea Peters has decided to stand down as our editor of Dams and Reservoirs after many years in the position. We would like to thank Anthea for her fantastic contribution to the BDS through her work as editor. We are therefore seeking expressions of interest from any member who would like to be considered for the role. The successful applicant would join the BDS Committee as an Honorary Officer. If you are interested in this role please contact our Technical Secretary, Andrew Thompson ( by the end of November.

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BDS YouTube channel

The BDS has recently created a playlist on our ‘YouTube’ page of videos from around the web related to dam safety and history that we feel may be of interest to our members. From educational videos about dam engineering principles to fascinating history of some of the UKs most iconic dams, we have curated many nuggets of information that provide insights into the world of dam engineering. The playlist can be viewed here. Whilst every care has been taken to check the links are appropriate, the BDS is not responsible for the content or comments on these 3rd party videos.

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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.

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AGM and Binnie Lecture

The AGM will be on-line at 6pm on Monday 5 October and will be followed by the Binnie Lecture by Mr John Gosden. Please refer to the event flyer and link on the website for further information and joining instructions.  The winners of the Bateman Prize and the Photography Competition will also be announced during this event.

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Updates from ICOLD

The 2020 conference in New Delhi in November/December has now been officially cancelled as a physical event. The General Assembly and certain technical meetings will be held on-line in November/December (refer to the website). The symposium “Sustainable Development of Dams and River Basins” will now take place as a physical and virtual meeting on 24-27 February 2021.

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Dams and Reservoirs Survey

Further to our recent questionnaire on the proposed change to on-line only publication of Dams and Reservoirs from 2021 we can report that we shared the findings of our survey with ICE Publishing and that a paper copy of the magazine will continue to be published next year.

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BDS Seminar

In lieu of the 2020 conference we are planning a virtual seminar this September using some of the material which would have been used at our conference. We are aware that many of our members will find it difficult to secure funding this year to (virtually) attend a one-day event and we wish to make access to the content as easy as possible. We therefore plan to present the seminar through four one-hour sessions. The sessions will be available on each Monday lunchtime through September, i.e. the 7, 14, 21 and 28 September. These will be free live events using pre-recorded presentations followed by live Q&A. 

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Updates from ICOLD

ICOLD has recently published its World Declaration on Dam Safety which you can find here. We have also received an update from Central Office on the status of the 2020 and 2021 annual meetings which you can find here

We have recently received an update from EURCOLD regarding the Hydropower-Europe initiative. Please contact Alan Warren for further details.

As a reminder, BDS Members should contact the BDS Technical Secretary for the current login and password information in order to access ICOLD documents through their website.

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Opportunities for representation on ICOLD Technical Committees

We invite all members to apply to represent the interests of the BDS on a number of ICOLD Technical Committees (TC). The Job Description for our representatives can be found here. We are seeking candidates to take up the role from 1 January 2021 and require applications to be made by 30 September 2020 in writing to Andrew Thompson (Honourable Technical Secretary) at Existing representatives (as applicable) can apply for a mandate to extend their role by up to three years. New representatives will receive a mandate for up to six years. 

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Professional development relating to Mine Waste Facilities

Mike Cambridge has provided BDS with a short article outlining the professional development requirements to acquire competency in relation to mine waste facilities. You can find his article here.

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Photo Competition

As usual we are running our photography competition. Full details can be found here. You have until 23 September 2020 to submit your photos for the chance to win a cash prize. Please note that entries MUST be uploaded to the BDS website directly in accordance with the competition rules. Good luck!

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Toddbrook Seminar and feedback

Thank you for your many messages of praise for the Toddbrook Seminar. We had over 500 participants of which 97% reported they were happy with the event. We received a very large number of questions. A link will be provided by the ICE as soon as the Q&A session is available to view.

We are planning a special edition of Dams and Reservoirs on the Toddbrook incident. The editor will welcome short accounts or thought pieces on the incident from the membership. If you were involved in the emergency response, were one of those affected by the evacuation or simply someone who would like to provide some comment on the events at Whaley Bridge then please write to us before the end of September – but please keep it brief! You can contact the editor at

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Defra consultation on emergency planning

We would like to remind you of Defra’s consultation about reservoir emergency on-site flood plans. The consultation is open until 10 August. Defra would like to hear your views about the type of information you need to assist you with emergency planning, what training would be useful to you and your staff, and for others in preparing and testing emergency plans for the reservoir and corresponding local plans. The link is here

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ICOLD 2021 Innovation Award

ICOLD are offering an Innovation Award, a cash prize of Euro1500 and free registration to the Congress in 2024 for winning submissions on the theme of innovation. Entries must be submitted by 15 October 2020. The presentation will be made in Marseilles during the Congress in June 2021. Full details are on the ICOLD website.   

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Defra consultation on reservoir emergency onsite plans

Defra has launched the consultation on the industry requirements for reservoir onsite plans. Please read the full news item for more information.


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ICOLD 2021

Papers for the Symposium in Marseille next year are now asked to submit their abstract by 15 June (extended deadline) to The full papers are required by 15 September.

Papers for the ICOLD 2021 Congress on any of the four questions must be sent to ICOLD from the national committees by 5 October 2020 so completed papers will be needed by the BDS by mid-September. If you intend to prepare a paper as the lead author could you please send an abstract to Andrew Thompson at by the end of June. Some restrictions on national committees apply. The four questions are:

  • Concrete dam design innovation and performance
  • Incidents and accidents concerning dams
  • Surveillance, instrumentation, monitoring and data acquisition
  • Dams and climate change

The Initial Bulletin for the event is now available for further information.

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ICE Green Paper consultation on Covid-19 and infrastructure

The ICE are seeking responses to the Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems Green Paper consultation.  The paper discusses the early lessons that the infrastructure sector should take away from the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK and poses a number of questions to gauge what future infrastructure provision should look like. This consultation runs until 14 June 2020. Responses can be made by emailing

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Online Event: Early Behaviour of Concretes in Large Dams

The BDS International Lecture by Dr Quentin Shaw on ‘Early Behaviour of Concretes in Large Dams’ will be streamed on-line on Monday 18 May at 6pm. Refer to the website for full details.

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Toddbrook Incident Bulletin

Further to the investigation reports on the incident at Toddbrook Reservoir last year, the Environment Agency has published a technical bulletin covering the key messages for the industry. The bulletin can be accessed here.

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Defra research on small reservoir risk published

Defra has released the report on the three-year research project completed by Mott MacDonald on reservoir risk. The report reviews the risk designation process for statutory reservoirs, evaluates the number of small raised reservoirs in England and the risk that they pose. The work will inform a review of present legislation.


The report can be accessed here.  

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ICE Reservoirs Committee

Further to the earlier call for new members of the Reservoirs Committee, the deadline for applications has been extended to 12 May. 

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Regulatory guidance in relation to coronavirus

You may wish to refer to the relevant regulatory guidance and position statement in relation to reservoir safety enforcement and COVID-19. The Environment Agency site is here; an information notice from NRW has also been circulated and is available here; and SEPA has also issued guidance and a regulatory position statement.

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ICOLD 2021 - Marseilles, France

We wish to remind you that abstracts for the 27th ICOLD Congress and 89th Annual Meeting to be held on 4-11 June 2021 in Marseille must be submitted to ICOLSD by 30 April. All details can be found at

If you have already submitted an abstract or plan to do so could you please inform our Technical Secretary, Andrew Thompson ( with the details of the paper.

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Toddbrook investigation reports

The Government independent review report on the Toddbrook investigation was released on 16 March and can be found here.

Access to a video on the report findings by CRT Chief Executive Richard Parry and the CRT investigation report can be found here.


We strongly encourage members to take time to carefully study and learn from the findings.

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Calendar changes for events

The current global health crisis has had an inevitable impact on the events that we had hoped to bring you this year. As the situation with coronavirus and any government restrictions over the coming months is very hard to predict, the forward planning for our events is also in a state of flux. Dates for future events will be determined when circumstances allow. 

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Reservoir Committee – new membership

The following notice has been prepared by the ICE Reservoirs Committee:

“Applications are requested for forthcoming vacancies on the Reservoirs Committee. From the October 2020 meeting, the Committee will be appointing 1 Supervising Engineer and 3 All Reservoirs Panel Engineers to the Committee.  

The appointees will serve a term of three years, or shorter if determined by the Committee.  Applications shall be submitted to the secretary of the Committee at Institution of Civil Engineers (at, by 1 May 2020. Applicants must include a brief statement (200 words) on their suitability for appointment. All applicants shall have their employer’s approval to serve on the Committee, if appointed

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Send us your videos!

We recently received a video produced by Storm Geomatics to promote the British reservoir industry and their contribution to it. You can view the video here. We will be happy to receive similar videos from other companies with the aim of producing a catalogue of interesting videos on dam engineering.

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New CIRIA and Environment Agency Guides

A number of new guidance documents are available which may be of interest to members:

  • CIRIA C786F Culvert, screen and outfall manual, December 2019, available by free download from CIRIA;
  • Environment Agency SC110005/S Blockage management guide, November 2019, available here.

In addition, publication of CIRIA R1071: Pipework, Valves and Associated Equipment in Dams. A guide to operation, maintenance, condition assessment and rehabilitation (the subject of this month’s evening meeting) is due this Spring.

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BDS Supervising Engineer Mentoring Scheme 2019/2020

The steady decline in reservoir panel engineers is a real threat to the dam industry. Encouraging and supporting the next generation of dam engineers is key to overcoming this threat. With this in mind, the British Dam Society Supervising Engineer Mentoring Scheme has been established.

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