More pumps installed in battle to reduce water level at Whaley Bridge reservoir

Members of the emergency services pump water from Toddbrook Reservoir. Photo: Roland Harrison/AFP/Getty Images.
Members of the emergency services pump water from Toddbrook Reservoir. Photo: Roland Harrison/AFP/Getty Images.

The operation to pump water from Toddbrook Reservoir has been stepped up, ahead of the threat of bad weather.

As part of a major national, multi-agency response, work began on Friday, with the aid of an RAF Chinook helicopter and 400 tonnes of aggregate, to reinforce the damaged dam wall, stop water from entering the Whaley Bridge reservoir and reduce its level.

Approximately 150 firefighters are working on the site, where ten high volume pumps have been removing around 70,000 litres of water a minute from the reservoir.

READ MORE: Heavy rain expected as efforts continue to secure Whaley Bridge dam

Overnight, an additional seven large 12-inch pumps have been installed, which are now pumping approximately five tonnes of water per minute out of the reservoir and into the River Goyt. Five more are being installed throughout Saturday.

The Chinook has also recommenced dropping bags of ballast onto the damaged area, while specialist contractors will be placing concrete grouting around them to give them stability.

A Chinook helicopter prepares to drop bags of ballast onto the dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.

A Chinook helicopter prepares to drop bags of ballast onto the dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gavin Tomlinson, of Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Once all of the 12-inch pumps are in place, we will look to relocate the ten high volume pumps that have been on site since yesterday (Friday), to ensure we have the most effective system in place for reducing the water level as quickly and safely as possible.

A severe flood warning remains in force for the area. The Met Office has also warned of further bad weather to come, issuing a yellow weather alert for thunderstorms and possible flooding on Sunday.

READ MORE: Thunderstorms expected while Whaley Bridge dam repairs continue- risk to life ‘remains high’

Mr Tomlinson said: "We are hoping the weather will be kind to us, but everyone is working as hard as possible to get ahead of the curve and remove as much water as possible today, overnight and into tomorrow, to minimise the impact of any bad weather that does materialise.

“All agencies are working to prevent any more water entering the reservoir and working around the clock to reduce the water level in the reservoir in a controlled manner – the more we reduce the water level, the more we reduce the risk of something happening."

The fire officer was also keen to praise the response of the community to this "totally unique incident", which has brought together emergency services and organisations from across the UK, with support from an army of volunteers.

He added: Overnight they have kept all the workers fed, watered and more importantly, helped to keep morale and spirits high. A huge thank you must be extended to everyone.

“Of course we cannot forget the community of Whaley Bridge. The people whose homes, businesses and community we are working to protect. After a hasty evacuation they have been incredibly resilient, coming together to support each other at an incredibly stressful and emotional time.

READ MORE: Whaley Bridge residents allowed to access their properties 'for 15 minutes'

"We continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure plans are in place to allow controlled access to their homes, to allow the collection of essential items and to attend to any pets that may have been left in the haste of the evacuation."