Jersey Water has announced the closure of Val de La Mare Reservoir for a period of 12 weeks from today (Tuesday 06 September) following concerns over safety of visitors to the reservoir while major improvement works are taking place.
Following a risk assessment in light of a number of people ignoring safety warnings and entering restricted areas of the reservoir while contractors are on site fitting the dam with a waterproof ‘membrane’, Val de la Mare is being closed to the public for the remainder of the works.
Despite warnings from the Company, some visitors to the reservoir have been seen entering restricted areas, including the basin of the reservoir, and allowing dogs to roam freely into the mud and silt at the bottom of the drained valley. The basin of the reservoir contains areas where silt has accumulated to a depth of between one and four metres, making these areas extremely dangerous for anyone or anything falling into them. The Company has therefore decided to close the reservoir to minimise the risks caused by people ignoring warning signs.
Commenting on the closure, Managing Director & Engineer, Howard Snowden, said:
“Up until today we had kept both top and lower car parks open throughout, with unrestricted access along the East of the reservoir and other temporary walking routes clearly marked out.
“However, the continued unauthorised access by people into the restricted areas has meant that, with much regret, we are now forced to close the reservoir to the public until the completion of the works. The potential danger to people and animals entering these high risk areas is very great; so we have taken this decision as a last resort to ensure public safety, following several instances where people have ignored security provisions and warnings signs, and ventured into dangerous areas.”
Bursary Student site visit
The closure today has coincided with the visit by the Company’s three Bursary Students who are attending the commencement of the lining works, the third and final part of this eight month project.
The three university students – Conor Hubert, Joshua Pereira and Jordan Todd – are all following the Company’s David Norman Bursary Award programme and have been given special permission to visit the site on the basis of their work experience programme at Jersey Water.
Stages of the project
The work at the reservoir is to install a water tight ‘membrane’ on the reservoir side of the dam, which will both prolong the life of the dam itself and prepare for any future extension works which may be needed.
The project began in May of this year with the improvement of approach routes to the top of the dam, to enable access for vehicles and equipment. In June, July and August frameworks and support equipment, from which the membrane will be positioned on the reservoir side of the dam, were installed.
This week, specialist international contractors begin the work to install the membrane. The work is due for completion in November.
The 900 million litres of water which has been taken from the reservoir has been drawn down over the summer and used within the system in the normal way. Queen’s Valley and the Island’s other reservoirs are being kept as full as possible during this time, and are being used whilst Val de la Mare is out of service.
Jersey Water has also worked closely with the Environment Department, a UK specialist and the Jersey Freshwater Angling Association to safely transfer over 17,000 fish from the reservoir to other locations.
In reference to the works, Howard added:
“This is an important and necessary project, both to safeguard the future of the dam itself and also as a vital part of the preliminary plans prior to any possible future extension of the reservoir. The specialist engineering and technical operation requires temperate conditions for safe installation and also is being done at this time in order not to miss the essential opportunity of refilling the reservoir from the winter rainfall which comes between November and April.
“We hope, due to our Universal Metering Programme and changes in peoples’ behaviour to water usage, to be able to put off the final extension of the reservoir for a number of years. Nevertheless, this work is still necessary now as part of safeguarding the dam’s future. The project is included within the Company’s capital expenditure programme so we do not expect this single project cost to have any affect on water charges”.
Notes to Editors:
1) Val de la Mare
Since the Val de la Mare dam was first built 50 years ago, work has regularly been done to maintain its safe condition. Advances in dam maintenance and protection technologies have meant that these types of plastic membrane are now commonplace in dams all over the world. The dam, like many structures of its time, has been subject to the effects of AAR (‘Alkali Aggregate Reaction’), a very slow chemical reaction which occurs with some types of concrete. The membrane will reduce the effect of the AAR, so prolonging its life indefinitely.
The project will also form a key part of ensuring the long-term performance of the dam before any extension works may be necessary in the future, as the demands for water resources in the Island increase and rainfall patterns become more uncertain.
2) David Norman Bursary Award
This is the third year which the Company has been running the Bursary Scheme, established in the light of the retirement of former Chairman of the Company, David Norman.
This year’s successful student is Conor Hubert, formerly of Hautlieu, who is leaving the Island for Bristol University to study Civil Engineering.
Last year’s Bursary Award student was Josh Pereira, who is studying a four year BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Colchester in Essex.
The first award in 2009 was made to Jordan Todd who is about to enter his final year of Environmental Biology at Plymouth University.
All bursary students receive a financial contribution towards their studies and paid work experience at Jersey Water.
For further information, please contact:
Managing Director & Engineer