Update on recent Chasewater Dam works from Andy Dennis

Images kindly supplied by Andy Dennis.

There’s ongoing interest in the drainage works taking place at Chasewater Dam, and I’m indebted to reader and top blog contributor Andy Dennis who’s kindly sent me another bunch of pictures and a short video of what’s going on.

I haven’t been able to get up there myself yet, so this is a great help – thanks Andy!

Andy also continues to do great work on his own local history blog and I commend all readers to go take a look at what he’s up to – it’s fantastic stuff.

The dam works at the moment seem to be tweaks to the terrace drainage. The dam, being constructed over two centuries ago of what was in essence loose material constantly passes water – around 200 litres a minute when the reservoir first refilled to full after the dam works, and much of the work then was making sure this didn’t cause erosion.

This flow is what irrigates the wetland at the foot of the dam and has made it such a rare habitat worthy of such careful protection, and led to it being declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

I would imagine management of such a flow is neither easy, nor a precise art and this is the second time since the original dam works finished that the drainage has been modified. I’m frankly surprised there hasn’t been more work necessary.

Staffordshire County Council issued this statement on their Chasewater Facebook page in the week, and it’s a little more detailed than the Lichfield Live report featured hear a week or so ago.

Yet again, I’m struck by the misfortune of local authorities having to maintain and monitor a structure that’s a major part of the local canal infrastructure: the Canal and River Trust must breathe a sigh of relief every time they think of the management bills they escape paying…

Staffordshire County Council said:

Chasewater reservoir maintenance

Maintenance work is being carried out at Chasewater Reservoir to improve drainage in the dam wall.

The wall, made of clay, earth and stone, is semi-permeable and designed by its original engineers to allow some water to filter through.

Now council workers are adding more stone, installing new drains and clearing silt from existing ones.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council cabinet member, said: “Chasewater is one of Staffordshire’s most popular attractions and that is why we have made considerable investments there in recent years.

‘The design and nature of the dam wall means that it needs ongoing monitoring and care. We’ll be working on it for the next few weeks and passers-by will notice we’ve lowered the water to summer levels and closed the wall-top to traffic to help.’

The reservoir is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest because certain aquatic plants thrive there. The work is being done in such a way that it does not affect them and their well-being is being monitored as a matter of course by an ecologist.

The county council has been responsible for the 200-year-old dam since it took over a £5.5 million repair project in May 2011 from Lichfield District Council.

Rather than being a source of drinking water, it supplies part of the Midlands canal network.

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One Response to Update on recent Chasewater Dam works from Andy Dennis

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    many thanks for this very interesting article and to Andy for his photos. I was not aware that the dam was designed to be semi permeable…to a mere amateur like mysoef this does seem odd. I wonder if other dams of the same vintage were designed with this feature.The canals that the lake feeds seem to have been made to be impermeable, using marl to line them.
    kind regards
    David

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