16 January 2022

Infrastructure Maintenance and Bureaucracy in the UK

This story is interesting to me, because of how it points out the universal nature of Red Tape and Bureaucracies. It also contrasts nicely with the Oroville spillway near-disaster and rebuild. Whaley Bridge: Plans submitted for permanent dam repair - BBC News

In August of 2019, the Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, UK suffered a failure of the emergency or auxiliary spillway. The failure was very similar to what happened at Oroville Dam in California. A spillway, which had been inspected and passed as adequate, failed when high velocity water passed over the spillway. In the case of Oroville, they then elected to use the emergency spillway, which lead to severe erosion, and threatened a cascade failure the entire dam.

In the case of Toddbrook Reservoir, it could also have lead to a cascading failure of the dam. For how they dealt with the emergency in 2019, you can find some links at the bottom of this post.

While in the case of Oroville, both the main spillway and emergency spillways were both rebuilt and enhanced in about 2 years. The powers that be in the UK took more than 2 years to approve the plans.

The Canal and River Trust, which owns the dam, has applied to build a replacement for the 1970s spillway.

It estimates the project will cost between about £12m and £16m and take about two years to complete.

The plans include a new overflow side channel to prevent water levels reaching too high in the Toddbrook Reservoir.

Granted, the situation in Oroville was different, as they new they couldn't keep the reservoir empty in the face of California flood seasons. And Oroville Dam and its reservoir are key parts of the California Aqueduct system, without which Los Angeles would not have drinking water.

Here is a decent 11 minute video from Juan Browne of Blanclirio on what happened at the time of the failure.

For what I said about this incident at the time, you can see this link.

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