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What is Chasewater?

Chasewater Country Park is a delightful park steeped in industrial heritage. Bordered by Burntwood, Norton Canes and Brownhills, it is now home to four sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Once an industrial wasteland, thanks to the work of Lichfield District Council and its partners, it is now a popular country park that welcomes over 150,000 visitors every year from across the region. From water-sports, to relaxation, thousands of people now visit Chasewater every week.

Thanks to the council, other organisations and local people, land has been cleaned up and reclaimed, trees have been planted and roads, footpaths, cycle tracks and visitor and sporting facilities have been built.

The country park is home to Chasewater Railway, a heritage tourist railway that is equal to many highly regarded tourist railways.

Chasewater is also home to one of the largest reservoirs in the West Midlands and it provides British Waterways with essential water to maintain levels in the Birmingham Canal Network.

Chasewater Country Park is now owned by Staffordshire County Council.

Chasewater reservoir

  • Covers an area of 108 hectares (equivalent to 131 football pitches)
  • Holds approximately 4.5 million cubic metres of water (that’s equivalent to 1,480 Olympic sized swimming pools)

Chasewater’s dams

This vast expanse of water is retained by two earth filled dams. The main dam (eastern) is 560 metres long and up to 12 metres high. The western embankments reach to a height of 4 metres and stretch for 1300 metres. 

 Find out more about Chasewater on the District Council’s website.

34 Responses to “What is Chasewater?”

  1. derek sadler says:

    come and join us on facebook chasewater fish
    why could they not push soil from the banks and dam the water off half way across chase then the water will thats left could of held the fish and there would of been no need to drain the pool altogether how these councils really do now how to waste money i bet british water ways are rubbing there hands together while waitin for these fish . the wardens and the council are a waste of time they dont even answer emails. we need to stop these fish being sold of and keep them were they belong chasewater have got no re-stocking policy cause they recon they only make £500 pound a year off anglers when will they realise thier sitting on a goldmine . LETS PUT A STOP THIS AND KEEP THESE FISH WERE THEY BELONG

  2. lizziethatcher says:

    Unfortunatley it’s not that simple. If we created another dam (even if it’s temporary), we would have to ensure it meets the same safety standards that the current dam needs to reach. It would cost us millions, and would delay the works taking place to the existing dam.

    Whilst we recognise you are disappointed that we can’t keep the fish in Chasewater, we’ve worked really hard to do all we can to create the best solution and looked into every option.

  3. lizziethatcher says:

    Dear Mr Sadler, I would like to respectfully point out we (LDC) are responding daily to posts on this blog, and all posts, provided they are neither rude, nor offensive (check out our policy – on Why tab) are being posted. I would also like to stress that the council raises approximately £500 a year from angling fees at Chasewater, and makes no income from rod licences, which are paid directly to the environment agency – find out more at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence Thanks

  4. derek sadler says:

    look can you honestly tell me that british waterways are going to not make any money from these fish cause your wrong the bigger fish will go to the highest bidder why not put the fish in Gailey they stocked that a few years ago and the cormorants did all of the 50000 small carp they put in stock the fish in there or are british waterways going to say thats over stocked ???? look the thing is your just giving away that fish stock for nothin were if you had half a brain between you and lichfield council you could actually make some money either off anglers that fished chasewater after the fish were put back in knowing wot was in there or from the sale of the fish so you could re stock the place no wonder the country is in such a mess !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. derek sadler says:

    12 on saturday for anyone concerned about the fish to meet up at 12 saturday for a group photo for the local papers and fishing mag’s this move of fish needs to be sorted !!!

    12 o’clock on the car park on tthe left as you go into chasewater

  6. Paul Chapman says:

    Derek Sadler has only stated what a lot of people are thinking and witnessing. If LDC spent more effort stocking the pool and collecting money they would probably have sufficient funds to repair the dam rather than try to beg the money and make excuses. If the project has been well thought out there is no evidence of it yet. I have also had emails and calls ignored and can only but conclude you have bitten off more than you can chew. Either way tax payers will end up footing the bill with no long term investment back into the facility. The temporary dam across the pool is an excellent idea and would cost hundreds rather than millions – the amount of water on the Norton Side would be so small it would not represent a risk if it failed. Please note I am a Chartered Engineer and not a clerk.
    Are you really thinking this one through??

  7. lizziethatcher says:

    The team at British Waterways has asked us to post this blog on their behalf in response to your questions:

    British Waterways has agreed to cover the cost of the netting and, given our very limited resources, we would like clearly to see a return that covers this level of investment. However to suggest that this is a commercial exercise would be inappropriate.

    Along with Lichfield District Council and the Environment Agency we are focussed on the long-term wellbeing of the fish and are currently awaiting the results of health checks on fish samples to determine whether they can be relocated to sites that are best suited for each specific species.

    The simple truth of the situation is that the fish will have to be relocated elsewhere and, in the absence of any suitable alternatives, there is a network of canals, rivers and reservoirs that already provide suitable habitats for a multitude of fish species. Virtually all of these waterways will be available to anglers on a day or season membership basis, so people will still be able to fish for the Chasewater stock in their new homes.”

  8. lizziethatcher says:

    Whilst we like the suggestion that if we ran Chasewater as a profit making fishery, we would be able to fund the dam works from the proceeds, it is unfortunately not true. Here’s why:

    If we attracted 200 anglers every month, who each paid £5 a day to fish, it would take us 250 years to raise the £3million.

    If we spent some of this income on restocking, improved facilities, ecological works, maintenance, not to mention marketing and to pay the taxman, it would probably take us another 50 years. And inflation would increase the number of years to collect this sum – and in the meantime more works would be identified to maintain the dam.

    If we only attracted 100 anglers every month, who each paid £5 a day to fish, it would take us 500 years to raise the funds.

    Given the dam has only been standing for around 210 years, even had we started running a profitable fishery in Georgian times, we still would not have raised enough funds to cover the works.

    To build a second dam so that we could maintain a greater volume of water for the fish is an interesting but impractical idea. We need to lower the water level because it would not be safe to have contractors working below the dam whilst there remains a huge volume of water in the reservoir. We know that the dam is in a poor condition and we will only weaken the structure when we put our first shovel into the ground. So we need to remove as much pressure from the dam that we possibly can. We will be building a ‘coffer dam’ so that we can get to the outlet pipe but to build a dam to retain the volumes required so that we wouldn’t need to rescue the fish would be prohibitively costly and risky. These works are being done in the interests of safety, and after all, one human life is worth a lot more than all of the fish in Chasewater.

    We endeavour to return all phone calls and emails, but those involved in the Chasewater project are extremely busy in making sure that the project runs as smoothly as it possibly can, so please forgive us if we don’t respond as quickly as you would like.

  9. The fish removal from Chasewater is certainly a causing a stir with the anglers that use my tackle store. I think the council are being a little niave if they do not realise just how valuable the fish stock may be. If ,as we expect,there are a large quantity of specimen sized fish in the Resevoir there value could run into tens of thousands of pounds. And do we really expect you to re stock it with the same amount of fish both in terms of size and quantity, given that angling only contributes £500 per annum! I would suggest rangers/baliffs have not been collecting the ticket fee. Chasewater could be a midlands premier fishery generating a considerable income for the council,that’s one for the future now!

  10. lizziethatcher says:

    Whilst we like the suggestion that if we ran Chasewater as a profit making fishery, we would be able to fund the dam works from the proceeds, it is unfortunately not true. Here’s why:

    If we attracted 200 anglers every month, who each paid £5 a day to fish, it would take us 250 years to raise the £3million.

    If we spent some of this income on restocking, improved facilities, ecological works, maintenance, not to mention marketing and to pay the taxman , it would probably take us another 50 years. And inflation would increase the number of years to collect this sum – and in the meantime more works would be identified to maintain the dam.

    If we only attracted 100 anglers every month, who each paid £5 a day to fish, it would take us 500 years to raise the funds.

    Given the dam has only been standing for around 210 years, even had we started running a profitable fishery in Georgian times, we still would not have raise enough funds to cover the works.

  11. Hey guys – can you please remember that you’re talking to a real human being here? Lizzie is doing a good job in communicating what’s going on to you – that the reality of the situation doesn’t put the feelings of the angling community foremost is hardly her fault.

    Ben, if you really are starting your own consultancy you really need to sort out your communication skills. Your rant is not only self-contradicting, but it doesn’t make sense on a number of levels.

    There’s a huge amount of stuff to take account of here, from wildlife and concerns of civil engineering in a SSSI, to protecting the public, attempting to protect the interests of residents, site users and groups who use the lake like boaters and yes, anglers.

    I know Lichfield Council are operating here on a very limited budget. They are attempting to get the fish moved in as practical and sensitive manner as possible, and the views of armchair warriors, whilst I’m sure are welcome, aren’t really helpful. Balancing the needs of this project will be very difficult indeed.

    That such a small amount is raised from angling on Chasewater would suggest that the value of the sport their is nothing like the claims here, otherwise it would be packed every day of the week. Compared to similar sites, there seem to be surprisingly few anglers on Chasewater.

    I’m sure that everyone involved is doing the best they can – but projects like this are surprisingly more complex than many here seem to imagine.

    I’m not always been impressed with the publicity and the way some have approached the Dam situation, but it needs to be said that in this blog, Lizzie is doing a good job in attempting to keep all informed.

    Best wishes


  12. lizziethatcher says:

    Thank you so much Brownhills Bob! We are doing our best to keep everyone informed through the blog, and it’s great to have comments like yours! Have a nice evening. Lizzie

  13. Dave Howse says:

    Local Burntwood people are using Chasewater increasingly for leisure activities such as boating, fishing, walking, cycling, dog walking etc.
    The road over the dam has always been an important access to the car parks and cafes on the Brownhills side. Since that road is now closed car users are having to park anywhere they can regardless of any inconvenience caused.
    Is it planned to reinstate and improve this access road once the work has been completed?
    Car parking around the Pool Rd and the Chasewater Heath station areas is hectic during the weekend so appart from the dam works are any other works planned to ease these parking problems?
    Chasewater is a great local amenity that has been poorly served for a long time by successive councils, perhaps this is a good time to start working on investing and improving this important local area.
    As the largest body of leisure water close to Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the surrounding urban areas, it must be a potential goldmine to any forward thinking council!

  14. lizziethatcher says:

    The access over the dam will not be reinstated becuase our engineers have advised against it for the long-term safety of the dam.

  15. Graham Griffiths says:

    RE:-Dave Howse and access to Chasewater and lizziethatcher’s response, so once again the people in Chasewater, Burntwood and those living north of the lake are being denied direct access to a local facility just as when the toll road was built access to the canel at Angelsey basin was closed from Wharf Lane.

  16. lizziethatcher says:

    It is not about denying anyone access. We are investing over £3 million pounds in the works. Our engineers have advised us that the continued use of the road, for general access, after the works, could threaten the dam in the future. Therefore it would be negligent of us to continue to allow it to happen. We understand that people may be disappointed, but it is still possible to access the other side of the country park, using surrounding roads. We are of course very grateful for people’s understanding that the road closure will help to secure the safety of the dam in years to come.

  17. Dave Howse says:

    Sorry Lizzie but thats not very suitable answer for the Burntwood users. Theres no thoughts about solving the parking situation and the road will have to be kept open for the owners of the houses below the dam.
    A single track road with passing places would suffice and the potential use of Chasewater is being stiffled by a lack of foresight by the council again.
    I challenge you to go and visit the Pool Road area on a sunny Sunday and just see the situation there being caused by the closure of the dam road. Then come up with a truly imaginative plan to open the access up to Burntwood folk!

  18. lizziethatcher says:

    Pool Road
    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your comments, and I’m sorry you are disappointed. Here’s a bit more background for you, and I hope it helps.

    The dam was not built to carry heavy loads of traffic, and despite the inconvenience, there is absolutely no question that we have to protect the dam, by closing the road off to through traffic.

    What’s more, since the new bypass opened, and before we closed Pool Road, it was becoming a dangerous rat run for drivers taking a shortcut between the A5 and Burntwood. We recorded terrible examples of speeding and poor driving, which could have led to a major accident, if left unchecked.

    Whilst we recognise the closure of the road not be an outcome some people are pleased with, the safety of the dam, visitors and local residents has to come first.

    Its also worth remembering that before the bypass was built (in around 2004), there was no access from Burntwood across the dam, and it’s only in recent years that people have been able to use it. Closing the road off has also enhanced the quietness and pleasantness of the park.

  19. Dave Howse says:

    OK Lizzie I accept what you say but if that is to be the case then the council still need to address the problem of parking on the Burntwood side of Chasewater. Given that parking is not part of the dam repair issue, as a knock on effect it’s still become a problem due to the works. Once more up when are LDC going to come up with a truly imaginative plan to open the access up to Burntwood folk????
    If this is not an issue concerning you please tell me who I need to badger about it???
    As for the “rat run” issue, what, with those abominal speed bumps and potholes, I don’t believe it!
    Thanks in antisipation (of an answer) Dave

  20. hi lizzie
    so the valves have been closed again, are we going down this road again, more dead fish, in the outflow without oxygen, i thought you would have learned from the last time ,thousands of fish fry left to die through lack of oxygen in the water. i have just been down to the outflow,although the water is coloured, you can see a lot of fish in the top layers of water, i suspect deeper down there are larger fish, all slowly dieing through lack of oxygen. will anybody do anything to save these fish? all i hear is costs , utalise what you have got,why not use the pump that you fill the boating pool with ,and pump the outflow out , utiliseing the the young rangers to do the job,the young rangers are quite capable and i think they genuinely seem to have a keen interest in doing what they can. to help the wildlife. and not to standby and let creatures die needlesly when somthing can be done.as the water level drops the fish could be hand netted and put into the canal. i look forward to your reply . graham brookes.

  21. lizziethatcher says:

    The engineering team closed off the valves last week. This is because the recent rainfall we have had has been disturbing the silt on the exposed reservoir bed, causing it to run into the main part of the lake. Closing the valves will give the water time to settle, and will mean we won’t put silty water into the canal network. However, because we need the water to reach a slightly lower level before we carry out the main fish rescue, closing the valves (and the rain – which might be quite heavy) is delaying the main rescue operation, which we have been told will now take place before the end of April.

    That said, because there has been a lack of rain over the last few weeks, the water level in the reservoir has dropped more quickly than we expected, so closing the valves won’t delay the overall works to the dam.

  22. Dave Howse says:

    Eh Lizzie still no ideas from LDC on parking on the Burntwood side of Chasewater yet?
    Here’s one then.
    Just up the road to the sailing club on the left by the sharp bend. There’s a grotty old field full of dead grass and brush that would make a great car park for 50 cars. 1 week with a JCB would see it cleared and leveled. some balast and job’s a good ‘un. Never mind painted lines and tarmac or ticket machines. we’ll manage without them. Now how’s that for a suggestion??
    Come on think of an answer why not.

  23. lizziethatcher says:

    Sorry – I’ve not forgotten you. Staffs CC own the car park. But I’m still looking into it further and will also find out more about the piece of land you’ve mentioned. Cheers

  24. lizziethatcher says:

    The area in question is a site of rare lowland heathland that was translocated during the construction of the M6 Toll. Natural England have also indicated to us that they wish to extend the Site of Special Scientific Interest to cover this area.

  25. lizziethatcher says:

    I’ve found out a bit more. The area you suggested for car parking is known as the heathland translocation/beachy heath. It is classified as lowland heathland and was translocated as part of the M6 Toll works. In addition this area is currently in a nature conservation management scheme called Chasewater Higher Level Stewardship. It is also proposed to be included in the SSSI extension. Nature conservation grazing has been carried out on this site for the past year and cattle should be returning to the site in August of this year. Lowland heathland is a UK priority habitat that has formed on nutrient poor acidic soil. Severe losses of heathland have occurred since 1800 as a result of a number of changes in land management including conversion to farmland, afforestation, urban sprawl and ecological succession through diminishing and changing management practices. We’ll be posting a blog about the healthland shortly, so you’ll be able to find out more about it then. Thanks

  26. Dave Howse says:

    Thats great! So how do’es this sound.
    We could realy think ecology now and do this.
    1. Put the “Burntwood Birdman” in the LH corner and he could have a shed with his beautiful pictures on the walls of all the ducks and birds we could have seen if there had still been a lake.
    2. Next a SSSI area for the pond life people, tree huggers, slime lovers and eco warriors etc.
    3. A camourflaged tent selling Bovril drinks and nut bars.
    4. Terry Herbert could have an area to search for the Viking longboat full of treasure reputed to be buried around there.
    He might even find some rockets or bombs!
    5. A recycling area with brown bottle skips and can containers for the brown ale, stout bottles and lager cans beloved by Burntwood folk.
    6. A play area for the Mud Midgets kids.

    I’ve just thought of a glitch! With the birdmans Volvo, the eco groups bikes, old Citreon’s and Rover Metros. The Bovril mans van. Terry Herberts Toyota Rav, with trailer, to cart all the finds off to Birmingham Museum, and Nina Dawes “recycling” limousine.
    1000 cones to direct the Zafiras, Multiplas and Espaces through the recycling zone, there’s no room left to park.
    Lizzie this was a great idea of yours but you need to think bigger. I think if you suggested using the whole of the adjacent scrub area that will be a winner.
    You’ve cracked it!!
    Now lets get started on something realy usefull.

  27. lizziethatcher says:

    Teee hee, very funny! But then again, if so many 4x4s, mpvs and vehicles want to visit Chasewater, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind nipping round to the car park next to the innovation centre! :) After all, it’s only a 5 minute drive (even at peak times) … having driven it and timed it myself!

  28. Dave Howse says:

    Sorry and many others don’t have 4x4s we want to park and walk.
    So the long and short of it is “hard luck” Burnrwood park where you can, and I suppose one day we’ll all get ticketed for not parking correctly!
    As for nipping round, yes thats OK but it still doesnt adress the root cause of the parking on the Burntwood side.
    See what happens this weekend when the annual car show is on.


  29. The church road car park is usually empty. What’s wrong with using that?

    Are people afraid of inadvertently getting some exercise?

    Best wishes


  30. Phil says:

    I am finding this fascinating! People have so much knowledge of the history of the Dam. Please tell more!
    Lizzie, you are doing an excellent job of informing people, do keep it up and don’t let the whingers put you off.
    We should all remember that LDC has been delivered this liability (they didn’t ask for it), and has turned it into an asset with very limited resources. Well done LDC.
    I did like David’s spoof – tee hee.
    There probably does need to be more parking in the area, but please not right by the Dam, the whole point of going there is to get away from the hubbub isn’t it? I’ve seen enough attractive areas covered in tarmac thanks.
    I like it the way it is – nuff said!

  31. lizziethatcher says:

    Thanks Phil! Sorry for the delay in posting – I took a few days off over the Easter hols!

  32. DavidJ says:

    I have only just discovered this blog so apologies for my lack of knowledge on this project. As someone who regularly cycles around the lake, can you tell me if I will still be able to go round the perimeter of the lake during and after the work on the dam?

  33. Daz says:

    Brownhills Bob – The car park in Church ‘Street’ is usually locked on weekdays and as far as I know. The only times I’ve ever seen it opened is on Chasetown match days.

  34. […] the fisherman, formerly so aggressively vocal, fell silent once the huge bounty of fish in the lake turned out to be largely virtual, yet another […]

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