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Working with Welsh Water to build dam safety knowledge

Posted: 26-Apr-2017

With dam structures holding back millions of tonnes of water in raised reservoirs, there is no doubt that dam safety is a serious business. Having responsibility for the operation and maintenance of over 100 reservoirs, and a growing dam safety team, it is a priority for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) to ensure that all their staff, no matter what their previous practical experience or academic level, acquire and retain a certain level of dam safety engineering knowledge.

The solution is the creation of a new companion reference guide on dam safety for new starters which complements the structured training already provided to staff, and which is designed for staff from a wide range of backgrounds, explaining complex engineering concepts in non-technical language.

To achieve this, DCWW asked Craig Goff, Principal Dams Engineer at HR Wallingford, to be the lead author on a new ‘Dam Safety Handbook’. Having been the lead author of the Environment Agency’s 2009 ‘Owners Guide to Reservoir Safety’, and an active Supervising Panel Engineer working with all types of reservoir owner, Craig already had experience in explaining technical concepts to be easily understood by a wide audience, including those of a non-technical background.

Front cover image of Craig Goch Spillway by James Parkhurst, Dam Safety Inspector at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Working closely with Steven Shakespeare (Dam Safety Engineer) and James Parkhurst (Dam Safety Inspector) at DCWW to ensure that the content and tone was just right, the handbook was drafted and then further reviewed and edited by additional experts at HR Wallingford, which has 70 years’ experience of hydraulic engineering, before being designed and printed in-house.

As well as providing a useful introduction to dam safety, the handbook is intended to be a companion reference guide to which they will refer back as their career develops and confidence and experience levels grow.

The handbook covers:

• Dam engineering – the basics
• The legal framework in Wales and England
• Welsh Water roles and responsibilities
• Surveillance
• Maintenance
• Monitoring
• Case studies of incidents.

In addition, details of where to find further information, and what to do in an emergency are also included.
The handbook has now been printed and distributed to the dam safety team. As it is specific to this client, it is directed towards the corporate structure of reservoir safety at DCWW.

By producing this book for new starters in the dams team Welsh Water is ensuring the same base level of dam safety engineering knowledge for its staff, improving reservoir safety culture within the company and encouraging the development of the dam safety experts of the future.

Dam Safety Performance Manager, Rachel Davies, says, “Although there are plenty of technical and academic books on the subject of Dams, there wasn’t a handbook readily available that was easily accessible to all our staff that would enable them to obtain a certain level of dam safety engineering knowledge. We are really pleased with the new ‘Dam Safety Handbook’, and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our staff. We are confident that the guide will help to improve long term reservoir safety at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water.”

If you would like to help in producing your own reservoir-safety related guide, please contact Craig Goff on c.goff@hrwallingford.com

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