Chasewater: Bracing for impact

Chasewater last year, dry and suffering. Taken from latest aerial imagery. Click for a larger version.

I notice today that grim news has been posted on the website of the excellent Chasewater Wildlife Group. I haven’t had time to get over to the park for a week or so, so haven’t been keeping up with progress on the dam works, and consequently I’ve been unaware of the pause in construction. I had been expecting, as I stated in a previous post, that the new masters of the project, Staffordshire County Council, would be reviewing all aspects of the project. It sounds like they’re not happy bunnies, and neither are the organisations that rely on the lake for their existence.

Yesterday, Graham Evans posted this on the wildlife group’s news page:

June 17th

The Dam Works – well it has for over 200 years!

The works on the dam are in a state of hiatus whilst Staffordshire County Council along with a newly appointed team assess what is needed to be done to ensure the dam’s safety. Works that have been started such as the causeway culvert and Nine-foot bridge and weir will be completed but it would appear that the rest of the works are in a state of re-assessment and revision. The pile driving at the foot of the dam has stopped and rumour has it that the piles could even be taken out if the revised program dictates. The pipe from the ‘plug-hole’ to the valve house needs to be inspected before any repair work can be decided and efforts are being made to get access to the outlet without having to drain the rest of the lake as Staffs CC are mindful that the more they drain out the longer it will take to re-fill.

 It goes without saying that the Sailing Club and other water users are increasingly concerned about their ability to survive if the lack of water continues beyond two years.

 The Dam Blog for June 13th reads:

  •  Here’s the update for this week from the county team:
  •  The sheet piling to the toe of the northern end of the embankment is complete.
  • Excavation and placement of filter material behind the sheet piles will start this week along with the removal of the bog mats.
  • The tops of the piles will then be trimmed to match the ground profile.
  • Installation of additional silt curtains in the canal will commence this week.
  • There are still some minor works outstanding at the causeway which will be completed over the next couple of weeks.
  • The review of the remaining key elements of the works is progressing.

Clearly all is progressing well and we will soon be on the road to normality. (GE)

The discrepancy between the two accounts is quite marked, and I know whom I trust the most. Certainly, if I were in the shoes of the water sports or boat club, railway or even the Outdoor Education Centre I’d certainly be talking to m’learned friends. It is, of course, quite right that Staffordshire are reviewing the works, and clearly to me, it’s Lichfield that created this mess. One can only wonder at the chaotic nature of a project that’s stopped halfway to actually decide what’s going on. The previous management must have been pitiful, and the delays and prevarication by LDC are now coming home to roost. Perhaps if they’d spent less time shooting the messenger and applying themselves more to the technicalities we might  not be in this mess now.

I fully support Staffordshire County Council in sorting out this chaos, and appreciate their efforts to try and avert further draining of the lake. However, like most park users I’m now getting very, very concerned for the future of the site. We really need a meaningful statement from Staffordshire and not the robotic press releases from LDC on the Dam Blog. Come on guys, it’s time to talk to us.

I just hope Neil Turner’s 15 seconds of fame on Countryfile were worth it.

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4 Responses to Chasewater: Bracing for impact

  1. Pingback: Chasewater – progress at last « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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  3. Pingback: Chasewater: prepare for controversy | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  4. Pingback: When the dam burst | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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