The investigation into the causes of the dam spillway’s failure is getting under way

“The investigation will carry on for as long as it takes to find out the cause.” This was the message from the Canal & River Trust’s Regional Director Sean McGinley when Canal Boat spoke to him on the top of the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir, with the investigation into the causes of the dam spillway’s failure getting under way.

In the incident which hit the national news in early August, when excess water following very heavy rain poured over an auxiliary spillway (provided for exactly this purpose), the concrete spillway was badly damaged threatening the integrity of the dam, and leading to emergency evacuation of homes in nearby Whaley Bridge while pumps were brought in to lower the water to a safe level.

Without wanting to pre-empt the inquiry’s work, Mr McGinley confirmed that he did not believe that the force from the very heavy flow of water over the spillway should have been enough in itself to lift off the concrete slabs forming the spillway base. But with the implication that there must therefore have been something amiss underneath, the question is why this wasn’t hadn’t been picked up during last November’s 10-yearly external inspection by a member of a Government-appointed reservoirs panel. As regards the methods of investigation, Mr McGinley said that ground-penetrating radar was in use, but that some of the six inch thick slabs would be lifted off if this was necessary. He added that all possible contributing factors would be looked at, including include anything from the dam’s original construction to the underlying geology.

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