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Event Organiser: ICE

Gwydir Reservoirs: The safe management of high-risk reservoirs, webinar

  • Webinar
  • Online
  • 16 September 2021
  • 18:30 - 19:30
Gwydir Reservoirs: The safe management of high-risk reservoirs, webinar

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When four legacy-mining dams in Snowdonia were found in urgent need of repair, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had a legal duty to make them safe or suffer enforcement action. Reservoir failure posed a risk to life or serious injury for people downstream, with criminal, civil and reputational consequences for NRW.

The Gwydir Reservoirs’ scale and location required an innovative approach; employing restorative, environmentally sensitive engineering to upgrade 150-year-old embankments offering flood attenuation whilst constructing new spillways to control flows and reduce risk to life downstream.

NRW anticipated challenges working across remote sites, in one of the highest and wettest areas in Wales, with difficult ground conditions and undocumented mine workings. NRW couldn’t predict a main contractor financial collapse and later Covid19 pandemic, which left NRW facing an unprecedented battle to meet strict regulator deadlines.

The presenters will share their experience on the multi-site project, reflecting on the legislative requirements, the works carried out on the water-retaining structures and how NRW achieved high quality and safety standards during construction whilst temporarily placing the reservoirs at greatest risk of failure. It shall conclude on how such lessons have fed into NRW’s wider reservoir portfolio and the ongoing work to maintain excellence and combat the challenges in the 21st century.

This event is co-badged with the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and with the British Dam Society (BDS).

CIWEM logo
British Dam Society logo


Andrew Basford

Civil Engineering Project Manager, Natural Resources Wales

Andrew Basford

Andrew is an Incorporated Engineer and led the project team on Gwydir Reservoirs. Recently completing an engineering masters at Herriot Watt University, Andrew has 12 years’ experience working on flood risk schemes, habitat creation and reservoir engineering.

Matthew Coombs

Reservoir Delivery Director, Binnies

Matthew Coombs

Matthew is a Civil Engineer with 26 years’ experience within the industry and a Supervising Engineer under the Reservoirs Act. Over the last 5+ years Matt has been Reservoir Compliance Manager for Natural Resources Wales (seconded), assisting with managing the Capital and Operational programme.

Tom Hawken

Chartered Civil Engineer

Tom Hawken

Tom has 10 years’ experience working on flood risk, dams and reservoir projects. He began his career working as a site engineer for the construction company Dawnus Construction before joining Arup as a Project Manager and has led the Supervision team on Gwydir Reservoirs.

Event venue

United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Felicity White

e: [email protected]