Returning to the subject of the local reservoir that currently even the most committed atheist could walk upon, I just thought I’d mention that Lichfield Council have published a schedule for work to upgrade the dam. Although the lake was drained back in April, not much has been done on site since, much to the growing consternation and irritation of Chasewater users.
So, onto the timeline …
Throughout November visitors to the site will see contractors erecting fences, and setting up compounds and on site. Materials like the culverts and sheet piles will be ordered, and we’ll also start pumping the rest of the water out of the reservoir.
In December, Galliford Try will start to install the filters to the downstream face of the dam (the face away from the water. We’ll start work at the southern end, and aim to complete a small section before Christmas. We’ll be monitoring this work closely, so we can make sure we learn all we can from installing the first few filters, and use this knowledge to best effect as we continue laying filters along the rest of the dam in the New Year. We’ll also complete the fish rescue.
In January, work will really start in earnest. There will be a flurry of activity on site. The culverts in the causeway will be built during January and February, and between January and March we hope to start and complete works to the bridge and spillway, as well as lining the pipe that runs through the dam.
We hope we can put the plug back in by the end of March, which is when the streams that feed the reservoir will start to refil it. We will also be implementing the filter works to the northern end of the dam, which we hope to complete in the run up to summer. Whilst these milestones represent our current programme, we are mindful that factors like design changes, adverse ground conditions, weather and availability of materials can all impact on our progress. But we are confident that we are starting to make real progress.
Despite some previous prevarication on their official Chasewater Dam Blog, Lichfield District Council now seem to be admitting that the project is indeed running late, and actual construction work is unlikely to start in earnest before the end of the year; indeed, by their own admission, materials haven’t even been ordered yet. All this from a council that was telling us back in september that everything would be good to go on October 4th.
I’m not having a go at Lizzie who manages the official Chasewater Dam Blog, but the project managers and councillors who’re increasingly making this whole affair look like a car crash. The team behind the blog have done sterling work, including writing a lengthy and informative article published in International Water, Power and Dam Construction magazine – a sort of fetish publication for those with water retention difficulties.
Comment on latest draft programme
The current water level is a result of drawdown to canal level (144m AOD) by April followed by a dry spring and wet summer/autumn.
The draining of the lake will probably take the level down to around 142m AOD and it is thought that the plug will go back in by the end of March. Therefore from a lower starting point than this year it will need a very wet summer to even bring levels up to what they are now by the deadline date of October 2011.
The many thousands of willows that have invaded the lake bed will have another year of uninterrupted growth and the inspectors will have a rather bizarre scene of a dam holding back a sea of willows and an Outdoor Education Centre, Sailing Club and Watersports Centre wondering how on earth they will ever safely use the water again.
At least LDC are confident that they are starting to make real progress. But always remember that Chasewater is a place they ‘had no real desire to own’ and one ‘they have taken as far as they can’.
This is beginning to look quite bad, and like the good folks at Chasewater Wildlife Group, I’m quite fearful for the future of this well-loved community facility.
Time will tell.