Frequently asked questions

I have just bought a reservoir where do I start?

A great place to start is the Environment Agency’s publication ‘The owner’s guide to reservoir safety’ which contains an excellent summary of all the information you need to know about owning and maintaining your asset. You can download a copy on our useful information page. Guidance on the legal compliance aspects is given in the Guide to the Reservoirs Act, published by the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2000 and available from Thomas Telford (link to Tilford website)

Do I need a Supervising Engineer?

If your reservoir is registered under the Reservoirs Act 1975 then it is a mandatory requirement to appoint a Supervising Engineer to supervise your reservoir ‘at all times’. This is a continuous appointment. Once the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 is implemented this will only be a legal requirement for “high risk” reservoirs, but owners are still recommended to obtain engineering advice on performance and maintenance of any dams that they own.

How do I find a Supervising Engineer or Inspecting Engineer?

The Environment Agency maintains a list of accredited engineers on their website. Stillwater Associates have a large number of reservoir panel engineers with details given on the ‘Our Staff’ page.

Is the Reservoirs Act changing?

Yes. The Reservoirs Act 1975 is being modified by changes in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. The first stages of this have been implemented by Statutory Instruments passed in July 2013, with further changes likely over the next few years. Some of the key changes include • Adoption of a risk based approach, so that only “high risk” reservoir require panel engineers • Possibly lowering the threshold for registration from 25,000m3 to 10,000m3 • Possibly making flood (on site emergency) plans mandatory for high risk reservoir

I am thinking of buying a lake. How do I find out if it is a “large raised reservoir” and thus comes under reservoir safety legislation?

The Enforcement Authority (see below) holds a register of reservoirs and can tell you whether a lake is registered as a ‘large raised reservoir’

Who enforces reservoir safety legislation?

This varies with country. The enforcement authority for England is the Environment Agency, with the enforcement role based in their Exeter office (link here). The enforcement authority for Wales is National Resources Wales, based in Cardiff (link here). The enforcement authority for Scotland is the local authority, although this will change to be Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

I live downstream of a reservoir. Is there any guidance available for for me?

The Environment Agency has produced some guidance for those living near reservoirs (link here)

What qualifications do I need to become a Supervising Engineer?

You have to apply to Defra, who manage the accreditation process, with panel engineers normally interviewed by the Reservoirs Committee of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Advice on the qualifications and experience required is given on the defra website.

How do I find the reservoir flood maps on the EA website?

Go to the page titled “Reservoir flooding and emergencies” which can be found here (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/114481.aspx)Then click on the link to “Check your flood risk from a reservoir”.  Enter a postcode or place name in the box at the top left corner of the screen and make sure the drop down box reads ‘Risk of flooding from reservoirs’.  Click ‘Go’.