Bristol Water will remotely monitor its reservoirs using DAMSAT technology.

State-of-the-art satellite monitoring for Bristol Water’s dams

Bristol Water will remotely monitor its 15 dams from space using pioneering DAMSAT technology. The move demonstrates its continued commitment to protecting downstream communities and ties in with the recently published Balmforth review on reservoir safety.

DAMSAT is cited in the review, which was commissioned in the wake of the near failure at Toddbrook Reservoir, as a way to help dam owners comply with the report’s recommendations. The team behind the commercially-available system hopes that DAMSAT will increase the effectiveness of monitoring, allow better allocation of maintenance resources, and drive down costs.

Developed by HR Wallingford, DAMSAT uses satellite Earth Observation techniques – including the analysis of spectral responses from satellite images and signals from navigation satellite systems – combined with real-time in-situ monitoring devices.

The technology can monitor and predict a host of safety indicators including: dam movement; leakage and pollution; and water level changes. Extensively piloted on over 30 tailings and water dams in Peru, DAMSAT is designed with the user in mind, offering a suite of individual modules that can be selected to best suit the particular dam and users’ needs.

Opportunities to employ the leading-edge monitoring are considerable. Globally, nearly 60,000 dams are registered with the International Commission for large Dams (ICOLD), which are estimated to hold 16,201 km3 of water - the same volume as around 6.5 billion Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Frank van der Kleij, head of asset risk and planning at Bristol Water said: “Bristol Water is a proactive, innovative water company and dam safety is one of our highest priorities. DAMSAT will allow us to improve our surveillance and monitoring of these critical assets.”

Craig Goff, supervising panel engineer for Bristol Water’s reservoirs and technical director at HR Wallingford said: “The benefits of this system are immense. Having continual surveillance and early analysis of behavioural changes between visits, allows me to focus my attention on the right area of the right site, at the right time. Bristol Water’s reservoir portfolio is safer as a result.”

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