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What would happen if Rutland Water’s dam burst?





If you’ve ever wondered what might happen if Rutland Water’s dam burst, then fortunately experts have already mapped it out.

While unlikely, the scenario of the dam near Empingham failing, or water rushing over its top, is part of a plan that can be found on the UK Government website.

It maps out which areas might be flooded - and which would be spared.

A map showing the potential extent of floodwater should Rutland Water dam burst. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency
A map showing the potential extent of floodwater should Rutland Water dam burst. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency

The aptly named Bath Row and Water Street in Stamford are shown underwater on the interactive flood map created by the Environment Agency, as well as Uffington Road in Stamford, and Barnack Road to Pilsgate.

The Isle of Uffington could be created, while the flatter areas of Tallington, the Deepings and Langtoft could have a less attractive outcome.

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Empingham, the village closest to the dam, would be within an extreme hazard zone, likely to include deep, fast flowing water. Areas south of its Main Street could remain flooded for some time.

While floodwater would be less widespread close to the dam at Empingham, it could flow at a faster rate. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency
While floodwater would be less widespread close to the dam at Empingham, it could flow at a faster rate. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency

The loss of the dam is also likely to affect several villages along the River Gwash. Great Casterton, Little Casterton, Ryhall and Belmesthorpe surrounding Stamford are shown as potential victims of reservoir flooding.

Rutland Water and nearby Eyebrook Reservoir both come under the Reservoir Act 1975 because they each have a volume greater than 25,000 cubic metres. Built in 1975, Rutland Water holds 124 million cubic metres over an area of 7.8 miles.

The Reservoirs Act states a need for an onsite reservoir plan, which sets out how to respond to an emergency incident. It also means the reservoirs are managed and monitored constantly.

Bourne. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency
Bourne. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency

These standards mean the flood risk from the reservoirs is low.

Under the Reservoirs Act there is also an onsite reservoir plan which sets out how to respond to an emergency incident.

A national Cabinet Office document from 2009, ‘Guidance on Reservoir Emergencies: Warning and Informing the Public’, says although there have been no fatalities from dam inundation for more than 100 years, “there is no room for complacency”.

North-West Cambridgeshire. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency
North-West Cambridgeshire. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency

The document recommends there is a ‘public information zone’ comprising “all those within two hours of inundation within the extent of the wetted area, and all those within the extreme hazard zone”.

It also reports the results of group discussions held with residents living within the inundation zones of five reservoirs in England. These concluded there was low awareness and understanding of reservoirs, and difficulty grasping how they pose a flood risk from ‘failure’.

They also concluded that people found it harder to imagine a ‘wall of water’ in a flatter area.

Rutland Water lies in the catchment of the River Welland and was created in the 1970s for public water supply. Barleythorpe Brook and the River Gwash flow into it.

The Welland Valley. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency
The Welland Valley. Map: Ordnance Survey/Environment Agency

Eyebrook Reservoir also lies in the River Welland catchment and was constructed in the 1930s to supply water to Corby steel works. These days it is used for fishing.

Rutland County Council has issued the following advice if flooding occurs:

• Keep calm. If you're in danger, call 999 and attract attention from nearby people

• Turn off water, gas and electricity supplies at the first sign of your home being flooded

• If you're trapped, stay near a window where you can be seen

• If the emergency services are there, follow their instructions

• Be prepared - you may need to evacuate

• Do not enter flood waters - depth can be deceiving. Just six inches (15mm) of flood water can knock an adult off their feet. Also, the water could be contaminated with sewage, or there may be hidden dangers

• Move your family, pets and valuables upstairs or to higher ground.



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