Those who follow my 365daysofbiking journal will be aware that I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the rising water level at Chasewater over the summer and winter months. Since the lake was drained to enable improvement works to improve the dam and overflow resilience, it was considered that, unless we experienced very wet weather, the lake would take a good couple of years to refill.
The wet weather came. The lovely people at Chasewater Wildlife Group who were rain dancing eagerly in order to return the reservoir they loved back to health, clearly have meteorological powers they were previously unaware of. The rains came, and barely stopped. The water level rose and rose.
This cyclist spent most of the summer and winter tipping rainwater out of his boots, and there’s been a permanent rainbow over the radiator in the hall whereupon I dry my hat.
Now Chasewater can be considered nearly full. This is a remarkable and shocking achievement. It’s also, of course, historically notable, and why I’ve taken such great pains to record it.
Chasewater Wildlife Group themselves – apart from filling in their excellent running bird and wildlife diary – had been surprisingly quiet on the matter, mainly due to work commitments, but I’ve been eagerly anticipating their well informed take on the matter of refilling. They haven’t disappointed me.
The following monitoring data was taken on January 28th and has been provided by Staffs CC.
The reservoir level has risen 25cm in the last three weeks and now stands at 151.61m (0.52m below the overflow and 21cm above the Pool Rd culverts).
The reservoir has risen 6.43m in the last 12 months
The water level is now 0.49m above the Causeway invert, so Jeffries Pool is now filling as part of the main reservoir.
V notch B downstream of the dam is nearly at its recorded highest level due to the reservoir being at its highest level at 108 l/min.
Flow through the sheet piles is at its highest level marginally at 60 l/m
V notch C in the canal basin has increased a small amount at 27 l/min but this has never changed significantly.
The embankment was inspected and there was no evidence of seepage on the embankment at the toe or on the surface.
The reservoir now has an increased surface area, with Jeffries Pool rising as the same level at the main body of the reservoir. This has slowed the rate of rise during this month to an average of 8cm per week. It is estimated that the reservoir will be completely full in mid-March if weather patterns remain similar.
This is fascinating and welcome technical stuff that shows that the dam is in rude health and doing what it’s supposed to. In the last week alone, the level has increased a whole 200mm, or 8 inches. I’d say there’s less than a foot to go now before Chasewater is full.
It will be interesting to see if the authorities actually allow the water to overtop the weir and test the spillway and drain system I explored last summer. I hope they do – it would surely be a sight to see, last witnessed, I believe, in 2007.
Of course, getting here has been no easy ride, and Lichfield District Council can be considered to have had a fairly lucky escape. Having taken on a task they had no experience of, they managed it badly until being rescued by the more savvy hand of Staffordshire County Council. My criticisms of LDC over the whole matter still stand, and we’re very fortunate to see Chasewater full so quickly, which will hopefully ameliorate the worst effects of having stood empty for so long.
I hope the whole park now can look forward to decent management as it gradually transfers to Staffordshire County Council, and it can now be carefully monitored and maintained in a manner such that the rare species and remarkable ecology can recover from the immense trauma i has suffered.
Chasewater is a fantastic place, right on our doorstep. We must now resolve to keep it this way, for future generations to enjoy.