A major disaster was narrowly averted in a well-coordinated operation to prevent the collapse of the dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge. Xylem Water Solutions UK provided pumps to drain the water and its rapid engineering response ensured a successful operation.
The wall of the reservoir dam was at serious risk of collapse after days of torrential rain led to what police called an “unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation”. Xylem worked with SLD Construction and Kier, the main contractor for the Canal and River Trust (CRT), which runs the site, to achieve a positive outcome.
The water technology company deployed five 55 Kw 2250 Flygt submersible dewatering pumps to draw water out of the reservoir at a rate of 250 litres per second. Within a week the water levels had been reduced by more than 10 metres and the town’s 1,500 residents were allowed to return to their homes.
Steve Simmons, area service manager for the North West, who led the Xylem operation, said: “This was a massive coordinated operation involving hundreds of emergency services workers and subcontractors. My team was working on the dam wall side of the reservoir, which presented some unique challenges, including a very narrow access road.
“At times the site was chaotic, but everyone worked together, remained calm, kept everything safe and focused on getting the job done.”
In total seven engineers from Xylem worked on site – often around the clock – from the beginning of the emergency on August 1. As well as installing the submersible pumps, the team set up six large diesel pumps and numerous smaller pumps. Then, as the water receded, they extended the cables and moved the pumps further into the reservoir basin. In addition, they provided aeration units and two 150ml diesel pumps with spray bars to help oxygenate the water so the resident fish could survive in the lower level of water.
Jason Howlett, managing director UK and Ireland, added: “I am very proud of our team that supported Kier and its supply chain and undertook gruelling work in a high pressure situation. It was a great relief to see their efforts rewarded with a rapid drain of water to secure the dam wall and ensure the safety of local residents. We are extremely grateful to the Whaley Bridge community for looking after the crews and providing sandwiches and refreshments to keep them going.”