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Not the Dam Busters

shedofdread

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IIRC, from a presentation I saw in 2010, the MACA bill for running those is >£20k/hr.....
 

Foo Fighter

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For some reason, the companies selling the water did not put money into maintenance. No doubt the tax payer will have to pay for the replacement too. Is hanging not good enough I wonder....
 

Grey Havoc

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For some reason, the companies selling the water did not put money into maintenance. No doubt the tax payer will have to pay for the replacement too. Is hanging not good enough I wonder....
The shadow of New Labour still looms large, though John Major has a lot to answer for as well. The actions of the Coalition government and it's immediate successors certainly didn't help matters either.
 

CJGibson

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Foo Fighter/Grey Havoc - it isn't a water supply reservoir, it serves to work the locks etc on the canal system, along the same lines as Lake Alajuela in Panama. Predates the water supply reservoirs by decades.

Shedofdread - can't beat a bit of good publicity.

Chris
 

Foo Fighter

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Sorry I knew that. They sell the use of the locks or are they free now? My information is that lock use is paid for.
 

DWG

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Sorry I knew that. Threy sell the use of the locks or are they free now? My information is that lock use is paid for.
The canal network is run by by the Canal and River Trust, a charity created from the old British Waterways Board in 2012. Even as a government authority it's budget wasn't huge, c£150m for the roughly 2000 miles of canals and rivers and 1500 personnel it had in 2011, just before the change. Income is from a government grant (currently £50m), property rentals, and the sale of licences and moorings, which apparently brought in £38m of last year's £204m budget.
 

Tony Williams

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I live a few hundred yards from that dam (and fortunately a couple of hundred feet higher up the hillside), so over the past couple of days have been treated to the sight and sound of Chinooks in an almost continuous shuttle during daylight hours, bringing bags of stone and sand as reinforcement. Oh well, at least that huge fleet of Chinooks bought as a result of the public outcry over the lack of air transport in Afghanistan is being put to good use. I should add that the coordinated response of the emergency services seems to have been excellent - fast and appropriate - and the Chinook crews are doing a great job.

The reason the dam failed was a period of torrential rainfall, overfilling the reservoir and overflowing down the slipway (as designed) but with such force (the term "raging torrent" is not an exaggeration, if you've seen the video) that part of the concrete capping protecting the largely earth dam was torn off.

The dam was maintained and checked frequently, and has in the past been drained down for repairs, so it doesn't seem that maintenance was shirked. The dam seems to have been in OK condition, but it was an old design (it was built c.1830) and the ferocious weather evidently pushed it beyond its limits.

As well as the helos filling the hole in the dam, several powerful pumps are trying to lower the water level to below the lowest part of the damage, to allow people to return to their properties. Less than a quarter of the 6,500 residents have been evacuated (most of the houses are above the valley floor) but almost all of Whaley Bridge's facilities - shops, offices, workshops, pubs, the surgery and the library, the railway station and bus stops - are down in the valley floor and closed till further notice. So are most of the access roads, including the main road through the centre.

We are watching the weather forecast with anxiety, as more rain is forecast tomorrow.
 
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CJGibson

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Thanks Tony, and DWG My attempt at positivity and a Boris Boost fell on somewhat stoney ground. Maybe stick to being a cynical........

Chris
 
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Grey Havoc

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Thanks Tony, My attempt at positivity and a Boris Boost fell on somewhat stoney ground. Maybe stick to being a cynical........

Chris
Not at all. Humor is always the best medicine, especially in times such as these.
 

shedofdread

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Tony - thanks for the informed perspective on what's happening.
 

Tony Williams

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An update - about one-third of the water in the reservoir has been pumped out, and the feared heavy rain missed Whaley, so things are looking better. The authorities reckon that another couple of days of pumping should reduce the level down to the targeted 25% of capacity, which would make it reasonably safe. Evacuees should be allowed back to their houses later this week. However, there is still heavy rain forecast which may or may not hit us.

What will happen in the longer term is hard to say. Obviously the reservoir will be empty for years while the dam is redesigned and reconstructed, assuming the money can be found. In the meantime, operating the canal the reservoir feeds will clearly be a headache and the sailing club won't be able to operate, so tourism might suffer. An alternative would be not to reconstruct the dam, but convert the reservoir into a large extension of the town's green park.
 

Foo Fighter

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I hope the dam can be rebuilt tbh, there is a way and it would keep some money in the local area which is important. Whether they can come up with the money is the thing. I see people have begun moving back against advice. Is burglary likely to be an issue?
 

Tony Williams

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Only a handful of people have moved back (to add to the handful who refused to move in the first place). No reports of any burglaries so far - possibly some will be reported when everyone moves back, but the place is swarming with police.
 

Grey Havoc

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There apparently has been some concerns raised locally about whether the dam was being properly maintained in the first place.
 

kitnut617

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Cripes, it was built in 1830 --- I think you've got your money's worth out of it. Time for a replacement I think ---
 
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Foo Fighter

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In my very humble opinion and not being a civil engineer, the only way for the concrete blocks to fail in the manner they did is for water to infiltrate the earth and clay fill. This would mean the dam failed due to age and poor maintenance which is unlikely to be proven. There are a great many dams of similar age so perhaps we can learn something. I hope.
 

TomS

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Not for nothing that it's baby brother, the CH-46, was nicknamed the Phrog in USMC service.
 

DWG

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In my very humbxle opinion and not being a civil engineer, the only way for the concrete blocks to fail in the manner they did is for water to infiltrate the earth and clay fill. This would mean the dam failed due to age and poor maintenance which is unlikely to be proven. There are a great many dams of similar age so perhaps we can learn something. I hope.
The visible damage doesn't necessarily confirm water infiltration, although that's the standard failure mode for such dams. The voids under the slabs are more likely the result of scouring once the slabs failed (remember the face of the dam, where the failure occurred, will normally be dry). Why the slabs failed is the question. It could indeed be water infiltration, but that is not in itself evidence of poor maintenance. The dam was subject to an extraordinary level of rainfall (and remember the dam will concentrate the surface run-off from its entire catchment area) and that may simply have taken it far outside its design limits. To give some idea of the kind of force possible, my father, the civil engineer of the family, reported seeing flood waters in similar terrain readily picking up boulders the size of an adult torso. And by the time he retired in the 80s he said he was certain they were getting 'hundred year storms' at least once a decade.

TLDR: It might not be a failure of maintenance, it might be that the standards we built dams to, and controlled maintenance by, are now obsolete.
 

Foo Fighter

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"TLDR: It might not be a failure of maintenance, it might be that the standards we built dams to, and controlled maintenance by, are now obsolete".

This is why I said "I hope we learn something from this". I hope everyone does and future events are mitigated/reduced/prevented.
 
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