Here come the excuses

Published: Monday, 05 August 2019

I'VE HEARD heard some rubbish from CaRT but this really takes the biscuit, It now says: 'Toddbrook dam was inspected twice a week'! writes John Coxon.

That means that the void under the concrete capping was noticed and reported no more than four days before it failed or at least it should have been if the inspectors knew what they were doing. 


* Why were the engineers not fixing it when it failed?

* Why was no warning issued about imminent failure when it overtopped?

* Why were they not in the process of reducing the water level to prevent it overtopping?

* Why did it take the failure of the capping to expose the void?

Inspected twice a week?—Pull the other one. Do CaRT really think we were all born yesterday?

Told inspected every 10 years

On Thursday it said it was inspected every 10 years. So which is it? My guess is nearer 10 years as that is mandatory but as CaRT has not been in existence for 10 years then they could have only inspected it once, if at all!

On Sunday, The says:

'The reservoir is maintained by the Canal & River Trust who have said it is looked at twice a week. The latest inspection on Thursday revealed the fault that caused the military and firefighters to be called in.'

Fault?  Most people would call it a bloody great hole which appeared before any firefighters or military were called in!

How far away?

Also, one needs to ask how far away from the dam was the inspector when they 'looked at it twice a week'? Did he/she just walk along the walkway on top tick a few boxes on one of their tablets they carry then go for a cuppa? Look at it from across the valley or actually get onto the spillway face and probe it?

WhaleyBridgeWeedsI would be very surprised if it was even looked at close up and then only very occasionally as CaRT said on Thursday that it's last inspection was signed off for 10 years in 2018, that's hardly twice last week is it?

The Metro goes on to say:

'Pictures emerged today of the dam wall three years ago, which has raised questions about the maintenance of the concrete panels on the spillway. Vegetation is growing through it, leading one engineer to speculate over historic harm to the 180 years old structure. Dr Mohammad Heidarzadeh, an assistant professor at Brunel University, said the vegetation on the 2016 video taken from a drone indicated likely gaps between the panels where water could have swept in, making the damage worse. That could be the whole problem right there. The spillway needs to be kept sealed and clear of these kind of weeds and plants'.

Water ingress for a number of years

It appears from the photos that the underlying subsoil has been washing away for some time and the photos of three years ago appear to indicate that there has been water ingress for a number of years. I would say that the inspector who 'looked at it twice a week; doesn't appear to be fit for purpose does he/she? A real thorough inspection would have detected the void under the concrete capping and should then have set alarms ringing. How long before the rest of the capping collapses?

The vegetation in the cracks should also have been noticed on each and every inspection and it would have been wet all year round. The moisture would have frozen each time winter temperatures went below freezing and this would have expanded the cracks and crumbled the concrete which would have made them larger each time.

If structural engineers see vegetation and soil in cracks like this then they know the outcome, it's a basic reason for failure of solid porous structures and a well known problem, it's called freeze-thaw weathering and is the cause of potholes in roads and scree slopes on mountain rock faces among other things.

Nothing done

Looking at the pictures from both three years ago and last week one can see that no vegetation removal and sealing of the cracks has taken place in the intervening time in fact last weeks photos show that there is still vegetation present even after the very heavy flushing it got when the dam overtopped.

This overflowing water tends to wash out the vegetation and the soil in the cracks and, hey presto, a nice little hole to allow lots of water to get under the capping, washing away even more subsoil removing the support for the capping and...

A full public enquiry

We need a full public enquiry into this incident and all the other failures of the system supposedly maintained by CaRT. Dutton, Middlewich, all the lack of water closures last year to name a few. It seems that each year there are more of these catastrophic failures and other stoppages meaning that any reasonably minded person can see that the system is not being maintained very well at all.

It has got to the point that many boaters will not venture far because they cannot guarantee they will get back for work after their holidays and will have to leave their boat in the sticks so to speak for an indeterminate amount of time. One being our esteemed editor as he has mentioned on more than one occasion.

Sue CaRT for compensation

I also hope that all the businesses and residents, including boaters, that have had to be evacuated from the area sue CaRT for compensation to loss of earnings and extra incurred expenses etc. and that the Police, Fire service, civil authorities and military etc. send them their bills as well.

Dreaming up excuses and trying to blame others, or the weather, or the age of the system etc. for its failures has got to stop and CaRT needs to be made to take responsibility for it's structures, it's actions and decisions. Getting rid of the snout-in-the-troughers and boot-lickers and employing managers etc. who know what they are doing would be a start. Spending far less on stupid trivia and more on real maintenance would also help.

Loss of life

Next time it might not get away with it without loss of life.  It's been a close call on at least two occasions in the last year or so! That boat next to the breach at Middlewich and Toddbrook Dam. Luck was on CaRT's side on both occasions. It needs to remember that only cats are supposed to have nine lives.

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