Reservoirs

The regulatory landscape for reservoir safety in Scotland is changing.

Reservoir safety in Scotland is currently regulated under the Reservoirs Act 1975 by local authorities which requires reservoir operators to register their reservoirs with their local authority.This will continue until approximately 2016.

Once registered, the reservoir operator must ensure they employ an appropriate engineer to undertake the necessary monitoring and inspection to ensure the continued structural integrity of their dams.

Under the 1975 Act all reservoirs receive the same level of monitoring and inspection regardless of the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water from the reservoir.

To modernise the regulation of reservoir safety and introduce a proportionate regulatory regime based on the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water the Scottish Government introduced the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011.

The 2011 Act is being implemented through a phased approach and will introduce a number of key changes and benefits to the reservoir industry:

  • SEPA will become the national enforcement and regulatory body, providing greater consistency for the industry.
  • Risk designations based on the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water will be assigned to each reservoir.
  • Different levels of statutory monitoring and inspection by engineers based on the risk designation, with low sites having less regulation than higher risk sites.
  • A public register will be held which will include a reservoir inundation map for each registered reservoir showing the area of land likely to be flooded in the event of an uncontrolled release of water.
  • When the 2011 Act is fully implemented, the threshold for registration will reduce from 25,000 cubic metres to just 10,000 cubic metres capacity, bringing smaller and reservoirs under regulation and providing a more comprehensive regulatory regime.
  • The Reservoir Manager or owner, referred to as the Undertaker in the 1975 Act, has a wider definition in the 2011 Act to include those that lease or use the water.

We are working with the reservoir industry and representative bodies to establish a regulatory regime which is fit for purpose and understood by those who will use it. Until the 2011 Act is fully implemented you should contact your local authority about reservoir safety.

Four briefing notes have been developed which detail the key changes being introduced and offer further information on how the 2011 Act will be implemented:

Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011: Overview
Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011: Registration process
Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011: Inundation mapping
Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011: Risk designation

For enquires relating to the 2011 Act please contact reservoirs@sepa.org.uk