A commendable reservoir community effort

Over 90 people have contributed to guidance designed to improve the safety of UK reservoir spillways and minimise the risk of history repeating itself. Toddbrook Reservoir came under scrutiny in 2019 when the spillway partially collapsed and around 1500 residents of Whaley Bridge were evacuated as a safety precaution. The suite of guidance published today on GOV.UK, addresses 14 of the recommendations in the Toddbrook Reservoir Independent Review Report.

Just as the multi-agency task force averted a fatal catastrophe, an Environment Agency task team created guidance with the assistance of numerous parties through formal and informal alliances and partnerships. This included 14 reservoir owners (including 8 water companies), 18 supervising engineers, 16 inspecting engineers, academia, engineering consultancies and specialists in access, design, digital content design, geophysics, structural investigations and monitoring.

“Firstly, I commend the reservoir community for helping us produce seven guides in 18 months, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s tremendous!” said Tony Deakin, Head of Reservoir Safety at the Environment Agency. “Typically, we produce one or two guides in a year, so to address 14 recommendations required a very special approach. Using our Client Support Framework, we selected and formed a dedicated task team from Capita Binnies, Mott MacDonald and Turner & Townsend.”

Professionals involved from Binnies included Andrew (Eddie) Robinson. They highlighted that the guides benefited from international best practices and were supported by several reservoir engineers at Binnies and a variety of RSK group companies. One set of guides is technical, on spillway examination, potential failure mechanisms and design. The second set standardises good practice for anyone owning, operating, supervising or inspecting ‘high risk’ reservoirs. The guidance also promotes the use of technology to complement the inspection, examination and monitoring of spillways, for example using unoccupied aerial vehicles (UAV).

guidance designed to improve the safety of UK reservoir spillways

Given the degree of reservoir community involvement, there is optimism that lessons from the Toddbrook incident will be truly embedded and not forgotten. Indeed, there will be lessons from this special approach by the Environment Agency that could benefit the reservoir industry.

Capita Binnies is a key supplier to the Environment Agency through its Client Support Framework, which the agency established to provide assistance and to support delivery of its corporate ambitions. The framework is used to sustain all of the Environment Agency’s capital delivery arrangements through the provision of key technical and commercial support. Other risk management authorities and Defra delivery bodies have access to the framework.

About Binnies

At Binnies, we create new possibilities for humanity through our innovative approach to delivery. Backed by a culture that has stayed true since the company’s founding over 100 years ago, Binnies develops intelligent water and environmental solutions using a whole-life-cycle approach to deliver functional infrastructure and lasting environmental and social legacies. We strive to elevate the quality of life for our local communities today and for generations to come.

Binnies is an RSK group company and was formerly part of Black & Veatch.

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About the RSK group (RSK)

RSK is a leading integrated environmental, engineering and technical services group made up of over 100 businesses. The group is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has an established presence in more than 40 countries around the world.

For over 30 years, RSK has been helping organisations realise their business goals efficiently, cost-effectively and with the minimum environmental and social impact. We deliver practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. As a client-focused business, our services are constantly evolving to directly respond to or pre-empt global conditions and legislative drivers.

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Media contacts 

Binnies UK  

Angela Collins Tel: +44 (0)1737 856399 | Mobile: +44 (0)7391 639733 | Email:collinsa@binnies.com