Readers of the item 'Regular checks stop dam bursts' (NCE 31 January) may be left with the impression that the intense surveillance that averted the potential disaster at Upper Rivington dam was fortuitous.
The Reservoirs Act 1975 requires that reservoirs are supervised by a statutorily appointed supervising engineer 'at all times'.
In practice, the supervising engineers visit on a few occasions each year and routine surveillance is carried out by the owners' staff who call in the supervising engineer if necessary.
Reservoirs are also subject to inspections at maximum 10 year intervals by inspecting engineers appointed under the Act. They must primarily identify if works 'in the interests of safety' are to be carried out, but they are also required to list 'matters to be watched by the supervising engineer'.
Surveillance should be proportionate to the level of risk, but risk should be kept to a minimum by safety works which must be carried 'into effect as soon as practicable' by owners.
Rod Bridle rodney. bridle@damsafety. co.