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Staffordshire County Council has announced that the major £5.5 million engineering project at Chasewater reservoir has now been completed.

The 200-year-old dam at the heart of Chasewater Country Park was drained of water in early 2010 amid concerns for the safety of the reservoir which dates back to 1797.

The plug went back in last October and water levels slowly started to rise once more, helping to restore Chasewater to its original position as a major regional leisure attraction, wildlife haven and key component of the Midlands’ canal network.

The last major milestone took place this February when 100 tonnes of concrete were pumped into the dam to create a weir which will control the flow of water when the reservoir is full.

County Councillor Mark Winnington, Cabinet member for Environment and Assets, said: “Chasewater is one of the Midlands’ most popular beauty spots so it was absolutely vital that the safety improvements were carried out and the site is now returning to its former glory.

“We appreciate the impact that this vital work has had on people who use the reservoir for activities ranging from sailing to angling and wildlife spotting. The county council’s expert engineers pulled out all the stops to get the work done as efficiently and effectively as possible so that local people as well as visitors from far and wide can enjoy the tourist attraction as we approach the summer months.

“The team has improved the overflow to safeguard nearby residents in the event of severe flooding, which will enable us to monitor the condition of the dam much more closely in the future.The drawdown culvert – the equivalent of the plughole in a bath – was located and inspected for the first time in over 200 years.”

A mystery brick-built chamber that does not appear on any plans was also discovered inside the dam, and will now be used as part of the monitoring procedures.

The original role of the reservoir was to regulate water in the Midlands canal network – in times of drought water would be drawn from the reservoir to ensure the economically vital canals were still deep enough to navigate.

Fears had grown that the earth dam was no longer safe to withstand major floods, was leaking, and could pose a danger to nearby homes.

Water does naturally seep through the dam. This is perfectly normal and acceptable as long as it is carefully monitored to spot potential safety concerns. It has also created a mini-ecosystem that has become a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The work has ensured this is safeguarded.

British Waterways is pumping water into the canal system from other sites and will continue to do this while the reservoir refills.

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