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Sat July 31 2021

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Bristol Water adopts satellite dam monitoring

8 Jul Bristol Water has adopted satellite technology to monitor the structural safety of its dams from space.

Cheddar Reservoir – one of the assets that will be monitored using DAMSAT
Cheddar Reservoir – one of the assets that will be monitored using DAMSAT

The water company is using DAMSAT technology, developed by HR Wallingford in Oxfordshire.

Dam safety has moved up the political agenda since the failure of the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir in 2019, necessitating the evacuation of 1,500 residents of the nearby town of Whaley Bridge. DAMSAT is cited in the review that was commissioned in the wake of the Toddbrook failure as a way to help dam owners comply with the report’s recommendations.

DAMSAT uses satellite earth observation techniques – including the analysis of spectral responses from satellite images and signals from navigation satellite systems – combined with real-time in-situ monitoring devices.

It was developed by HR Wallingford, which was the government’s Hydraulics Research Station until it was privatised in 1982.

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The technology can monitor and predict a host of safety indicators including: dam movement; leakage and pollution; and water level changes. DAMSAT was piloted on more than 30 tailings and water dams in Peru. [See our previous report here.]

Frank van der Kleij, head of asset risk and planning at Bristol Water said: “Bristol Water is a proactive, innovative water company and dam safety is one of our highest priorities. DAMSAT will allow us to improve our surveillance and monitoring of these critical assets.”

Craig Goff, supervising panel engineer for Bristol Water’s reservoirs and technical director at HR Wallingford, said: “The benefits of this system are immense. Having continual surveillance and early analysis of behavioural changes between visits, allows me to focus my attention on the right area of the right site, at the right time. Bristol Water’s reservoir portfolio is safer as a result.”

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