Water level at Toddbrook Reservoir drops by 3 metres due to ongoing Fire Service operations.


Fire and Rescue Services from across the UK are continuing to support the major incident in Derbyshire - and are working tirelessly to assist in reducing water levels in the Toddbrook reservoir, while helping to keep the public safe.

The reservoir and dam have already shown signs of extensive damage, which could lead to flooding of nearby homes. The reservoir contained approximately 1.3million tonnes of water and the dam holding it contains 300 million gallons.

Ten High Volume Pumps (HVPs) continue to operate and pump water to assist in reducing water levels. The deployment is part of the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) National Resilience (NR) response. This can include fire appliances, and a range of specialised teams including High Volume Pumps, Enhanced Logistics Support Teams, swift water rescue teams, powered rescue boats, tactical advisers, and standard fire pumps.

The HVPs have been pumping water from the reservoir since Friday, moving approximately 1.7cubic metres of water every second; this has seen the water level of the reservoir drop by 3 metres; higher capacity electric pumps are now being brought into operation to assist with lowering the water level further as there is a requirement for the level to drop by a further 5-7 metres to enable substantial repairs to the dam.

The damaged section of the dam wall has now been reinforced with approximately 400 tonnes of aggregate with work now on-going to reinforce this further with a layer of concrete.

The weather has been good and supported our operations over the past two days; however, we are expecting further rainfall today and tomorrow and so contingency plans continue to be put in place, in the event of the dam wall breaching.

A Strategic Holding Area (SHA) has been set up, which assists in the coordination of a multi-agency response at national major incidents. This is a pre-identified space, large enough to accommodate and coordinate logistical support structures of the emergency services and other organisations required for a national response.

In total the assets deployed - either to the scene or the SHA - are:  

  • Ten HVPs from the following Fire and Rescue Services:  Derbyshire; Greater Manchester; Northamptonshire; South Yorkshire; Mid & West Wales; Hereford & Worcester; Nottinghamshire; Staffordshire, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire.
  • Two HVP Tactical Advisors: from Warwickshire FRS and Cheshire FRS
  • One Flood Rescue Tactical Advisor: from London Fire Brigade
  • Two ELS Teams: form Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire

A further request has been made by Derbyshire FRS for the following:

  • Ten Type B Boat Teams
  • One further Floor Rescue Tactical Advisor

Roy Wilsher, Chair of the NFCC, said: "This is yet another example of the excellent coordinated response by the UK Fire and Rescue Service. Once again, assets have been mobilised quickly and are playing a key role in the response. Our ability to mobilise our assets is an essential part of our national resilience capability.

"This coordinated approach shows how we can get the right equipment and people in place quickly and efficiently, while working closely with others. This reiterates my previous statements about why we must be resourced to risk, as well as to demand. We have seen an increase in demand for such national resilience deployments, when we look at recent widespread flooding and large wildfires.”

The overarching aims and objectives of the operation is to save lives, limit additional water entering reservoir, reduce strain on the dam by pumping out the water and reinforce and to ‘make good’ the existing dam structure. It will also aim to protect the substation which supplies the local area, protect and mitigate the impact on the water treatment plant, three miles away. Liaison with other fire services in the North West is also taking place, with regard to any potential effects which could occur downstream.

The Environment Agency issued a 'danger to life' warning which has resulted in hundreds of residents and businesses being evacuated.  Emergency services have also been assisting in the evacuation of homes and businesses which were identified as being at risk. About 85% of people in Whaley Bridge have evacuated their homes.

  • The National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT), supported by lead NFCC officers, coordinates the national response, provides vital support to government and supports fire and rescue services with additional assets.
  • NR also provides invaluable support in response to these nationally significant incidents, working to the National Coordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF), to ensure a flexible response is put in place.
  • Highly experienced fire and rescue service strategic and tactical advisers support affected areas, which has been consistently demonstrated since the Cumbria floods in 2005.
  • Fire and Rescue Services also coordinate a national response to wide area flooding on behalf of DEFRA through a well-established and highly effective National Coordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF).
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