Failing reservoir could flood homes

Published: Monday, 01 February 2010

SUCH is an MP's concern about the condition of Chasewater Reservoir, that he has written to the Prime Minister about its danger to people and homes.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has again challenged the Prime Minister over the potential danger of Chasewater Reservoir near the city, telling that it is in so poor a state that it could breach putting 80 peoples lives at risk and threaten 2,000 homes, Alan Tilbury reveals.

He was critical of Gordon Brown's response to his question in the House of Commons, so has written to the Prime Minister outlining the problems concerning the 210 years old reservoir.

Canal network

In his letter, the MP pointed out that it is a key piece of regional infrastructure and is the main supply of water for approximately 69 miles of the canal network through Birmingham and the Black Country conurbation including Walsall and Wolverhampton.

He added that recently its inspecting engineer identified urgent works that are needed to ensure that the very real risk of the dam failing is drastically reduced. A major worry is that the reservoir is probably unlikely to be able to withstand the effects of a major storm, and there are increasing concerns that the leakage that is currently observed from the dam will lead to prolonged internal erosion and hence to catastrophic failure.

Repairs £3.5 millions

It is estimated that the repairs would cost in the region of £3.5m,  but though its sole purpose is supplying the canal network, a conveyance provides that British Waterways have the sole right to draw water from the reservoir to supply its canal network without any requirement to contribute to its upkeep, which Michael Fabricant pointed out is a sizeable sum for a small district authority.

The district council believes that it is not right that the responsibility of funding all of the costs of providing such a major piece of regional infrastructure rests with just the 40,000 council tax-payers of Lichfield district when the benefits of the water are felt right across the West Midlands.