Chasewater: closer now than yesterday

It’s nice to see that now there’s some decent management of the Chasewater dam works that the project seems to be heading towards completion. I recorded a few weeks ago that the works had clearly been reassessed, and now it seems to be fairly cranking along. Visiting late Saturday afternoon, I took a spin down Pool Road and noted there was a gap in the security fence, so I skipped in with the bike. There was a similar gap in the sectional barrier at the basin, so I could get out onto the Anglesey Branch.

This unusual access allowed me to get closer to the works than before and see what was going on. The coffer dam is now compete, and the ‘plughole’ or outlet culvert, where water feeds from the base of the reservoir through the valves and into the canal, is now effectively sealed off by sectional piling and pumped dry so that engineers can assess it’s condition and make good any repair needed. This pump out includes the head feed at the canal basin, where the filter grilles can be seen in the end of the feeder pipe. All the old constructions around the spillway and old nine-foot pool have been removed, and new concrete structures are being cast into place. The new bridge, constructed of the same square pipe sections as the one in the railway causeway, is now in place. Gravel filters have been installed at the base of the dam, the retaining piling now clipped level along the length. The top of the gravel has been lined, and what appears to be clay has been rolled on top; the lower part of the dam where it meets the filter has been regraded to lessen the steepness.

Once the work on the outlet culvert is complete, the valves will be closed and the lake can start refilling – of course, were this to happen tomorrow, it would still take several years to refill. This summer has been so dry that no water is currently flowing into Chasewater at all.

Chasewater is still drained, and is still in grave peril, but at least it seems like everyone involved is now working towards the same conclusion, and it surely can’t be far away. Lichfield District Council’s mismanagement of this invaluable wildlife haven was grievous should never be forgotten.

For further views, do check out Chasewater Wildlife Group’s news page.

The 'toe drain' at the foot of the dam is now installed. The sectional steel piling has been cropped level, the gravel upper lined and covered in rolled clay. The lower slope to it seems to be having it's gradient reduced. 5:37pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

The coffer dam - again, made from sectional steel piling - is the triangular 'fence' holding back the water. The outlet culvert to the canal is before it in that muddy hole. 5:39pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

The canal basin is fairly untouched - although the canal is lined with white silt filters to trap detritus from the outlet. The outlet itself is currently pumped dry. 5:40pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

All the long grass and scrub has been cut from the upper banks of the dam, and the tree stops and roots marked. Looks like they're due to be grubbed out. 5:41pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

There's frantic work going on at the spillway, and designs seem to have changed since Lichfield's plan. All the old walls have now been ripped out, and interesting concrete footings are being cast in place. On the right is a temporary footbridge over the new overflow pipes through the dam. 5:44pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

The replacement for the old Pool Road bridge is made out of the same square RCP sections as the new spillway in the railway causeway. Lets hope they've got these at the right level. 5:45pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

This is the basin where water would feed into the canal from Chasewater. I wonder how old those metal grilles in the culvert are? I note people have been testing the mud to see how solid it is. 5:47pm, Saturday, 13th August 2011.

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4 Responses to Chasewater: closer now than yesterday

  1. Rich Burnell says:

    splendid post, thanks for the engineering breakdown, I’ve nosed around there a few times but have no technical knowledge about what’s going on. It’s wonderful to find out, cheers Bob.

  2. steve homer says:

    I have now left mutiple comments and questions on the “official” chasewater dam blog only to have NO reply. I am sure that I am not alone in this. I have been told that local radio reports have suggested that the plug is back in and that the lake is now refilling, can you anyone confirm this? Wouldn’t it be a great gesture on behalf of the council/contractors to help the refill by pumping water back in. This would go some way to repay the patience of the user groups who have had to tolerate such unnecessary delays in what is essentially a simple project.

  3. Lizzie and Neil stopped answering practical questions when the project and their excuses fell apart. It’s not Lizzie’s fault, but Neil Turner should be investigated over this whole fiasco. His handling from beginning until the project was taken away from him was shocking.
    I don’t think the plug is back in yet. Chasewater Wildlife Group didn’t seem to know a couple of days ago. Even if it is, there’s no natural water flowing into the site at the moment due to the dry weather. Refilling will take years. Since the brook that feeds the lake feeds the swag too, the swag will need to fill up first. Pray for rain and don’t hold your breath. Currently, the brook is dry.
    Refilling Chasewater as a gesture is lovely in theory, but there is no readily available source to fill it from. South Staffs would not allow it from tap water sources and the canal is way too low already. You’re literally looking for a reservoir full of water going spare. After a dry summer that’s just not happening.
    All we can do is be patient. The team working there now seem to know what they’re doing and won’t hold back any longer than they have to.

    Best wishes

    Bob

  4. Pingback: Chasewater: Plugging away « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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