Managing flood risk from Yellow Dam

Yellow Dam crosses Gategill beck above Threlkeld village, close to the hunting kennels. It is privately owned and was created to provide a water supply and power for mining activities in the 1880's. It consists of a wall and a culvert (underground watercourse) with mining spoil placed on top to create a dam across the beck.

Yellow Dam has grown weaker with age and there is a small risk that it could collapse because, after heavy rainfall, water builds up behind the dam and puts pressure on the structure. If this happened, any water that had built up behind the dam would flow quickly downstream and could flood local properties and part of the A66.

The owner of the dam is unable to resolve the issue, so as the lead agency for flood risk management in this instance, the Environment Agency is working with Cumbria County Council, Eden District Council, the Lake District National Park Authority and the Highways Agency to try and find a solution that will make the dam safe.

Several options are being considered, which range from removing it completely, to replacing the culvert that runs underneath. Either option would be expensive (initial estimates suggest it could cost over £600,000), so the Environment Agency is working to identify sources of funding as a matter of urgency, and would like to start work early in 2014.

In the meantime, the Environment Agency is installing equipment to monitor the water level behind the dam and Cumbria County Council is working with the Police and Fire & Rescue Service to develop emergency procedures so they know what to do if the dam collapses. The Environment Agency has also carried out some tree cutting and debris removal to reduce blockages in the culvert.

The home and business owners directly affected by this issue have already been contacted, but it is important that the whole community is aware of the risk so that they can take action if required.

If you see evidence that the dam is deteriorating, report it to the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.  In an emergency contact the Police and Fire Service by dialling 999.

For advice and guidance on developing a flood action plan, call David Snaith in the Environment Agency’s Flood Resilience Team in 01768 215904, email david.snaith@environment-agency.gov.uk or go online: www.environment-agency/floodnorthwest