Dams can be a big issue. They’re often in far-flung locations and many are in countries that don’t have the resources to monitor them effectively.
Dams come in two major varieties: water dams and tailings dams. Water dams are used to create reservoirs to store the water we use in our homes, for farming, hydropower, leisure and in industry, whilst tailings dams are vital for storing the sludge-like waste from mining.
There are fewer tailings dams, but history shows us that statistically they are more likely to fail.
When dams are not monitored effectively it can be a recipe for disaster. Dam failure results in catastrophes such as the one at the Brazilian Brumadinho dam in 2019, which released 12 million cubic metres of mining waste, killing around 300 people.
And we had a recent near miss in the UK at the Toddbrook Reservoir above the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge in 2019.