WELSH Water has started work on a £2.5 million investment scheme which will ensure Elan Valley’s Caban Coch dam stays in top condition for years to come.

For more than 100 years, the Caban Coch dam has played a crucial role in supplying hundreds of thousands of people with clean, fresh drinking water. A shining example of Victorian engineering; work to construct Caban Coch and its five associated dams at Elan Valley began in 1893 and took 50,000 men 11 years to complete.

Work began last week and is scheduled to be completed by September 2017. The work will involve the replacement of pipes and valves in the dam which are crucial to ensuring it continues to do its job of regulating the amount of water held in the reservoir. During the work, there will be no impact on water supplies to customers.

While Caban Coch dam contributes to the supply of water to Birmingham and parts of Wales, this is not its only function. It also provides compensation water to ensure that adequate flow is maintained in the Elan and Wye rivers.

Nick Parkin, head of dam safety for Welsh Water said: “To ensure we keep all of our dams in the best condition, we occasionally need to carry out maintenance work to them and the time has come for us to do some work to Caban Coch.

“The dam plays an important role in controlling the release of water from the Caban Coch reservoir through a series of pipes and valves located in the dam. Our work here will see us invest £2.5 million to upgrade these pipes and valves.

“Months of careful planning and liaison with the appropriate bodies has been undertaken while designing this scheme and will give us a good chance of getting the work done by September.

“The work will present a number of engineering challenges, for instance there are four pipes which run through the dam and we need to access each pipe individually. In order to do this, we need to create an access road into the river below the dam to enable us to bring in the necessary plant and equipment. We also need to drain down the reservoir by around seven metres to allow access to the pipes from the reservoir itself. Trained divers will be used for this section of the work and it will be done under controlled supervision to ensure the health and safety of the team.”

Everything will be done to ensure any necessary equipment is delivered outside of visiting hours to avoid any disruption to visitors to the Estate. A fenced off area for storing equipment and staff work cabins will be situated between the Visitor Centre and Caban Coch dam and any deliveries that do occur during visiting hours will be managed to ensure the safety of visitors to the site.

The scheme forms part of the £1.7 billion investment the not for profit company will be spending up until 2020 in further improving services to customers and protecting the environment.