Reservoirs

Reservoir safety in Scotland

The regulatory landscape for reservoir safety in Scotland is changing with the introduction of the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 (the 2011 Act).

The 2011 Act introduces a proportionate and risk based regulatory regime based on the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water on downstream receptors. The 2011 Act has been implemented through a phased approach and introduces a number of key changes and benefits to the reservoir industry:

  • SEPA is the national enforcement and regulatory body, providing greater consistency for the industry.
  • Risk designations of either, high, medium or low have been assigned to each registered reservoir by SEPA based on the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water.
  • Different levels of statutory monitoring and inspection must be undertaken by the panel engineers based on the risk designation, with low and medium risk sites having less regulation than high risk sites.
  • A Controlled Reservoirs Register which includes 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 is publicly available.
  • 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.


Reservoir registration

Registration of reservoirs under the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011.

All new reservoirs, and any reservoirs regulated under the Reservoirs Act 1975 are required to be registered with SEPA.

Please use the registration form below to register with us and ensure you pay the registration fee. For information on the correct registration fee please view the Reservoirs (Scotland) Charging Scheme 2018.

It is the responsibility of the reservoir manager to supply reservoir inundation maps at the time of registration. These inundation maps are required to be produced in line with SEPA's Reservoir Inundation Mapping Methodology. Contact us at reservoirs@sepa.org.uk or 03000 99 66 99  for more information.

The registration form contains guidance on how to complete it and SEPA has produced a number of documents to provide further information which can be found on this webpage. If you have any queries after reading these documents then please contact us prior to returning your registration form.

It is the responsibility of the reservoir manager to register their reservoir(s) with SEPA and failure to do so could result in enforcement action.

Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011: Blank registration form


Controlled Reservoirs Register

Under Section 9 of the 2011 Act, SEPA is required to establish and maintain a Controlled Reservoirs Register. This Controlled Reservoirs Register will contain key information about the reservoir, including, reservoir manager details, the panel engineers associated with the reservoir and an inundation map for each reservoir highlighting the area of land that is likely to be flooded in the event of an uncontrolled release of water.

We are required to make this register available to the public. View the Controlled Reservoirs Register

The publication of reservoirs on the Controlled Reservoirs Register is an ongoing process. Only a proportion of the reservoirs that fall under the 2011 Act are currently shown. More will be added as the full registration process is completed for each reservoir.
 

Reservoir inundation maps

We have produced reservoir inundation maps for those sites currently regulated under the Reservoirs Act 1975. The primary purpose of producing these inundation maps was to support us in assigning a risk designation to every controlled reservoir.

Reservoir inundation maps can be accessed from the publicly available Controlled Reservoirs Register

Reservoir inundation maps will only appear on the Controlled Reservoirs Register once we have received and processed a valid registration document for the reservoir. The inundation maps will be uploaded in a phased manner as the registration forms are processed.

It is the responsibility of the reservoir manager to supply reservoir inundation maps at the time of registration. These inundation maps are required to be produced in line with SEPA's Reservoir Inundation Mapping Methodology. Contact us at reservoirs@sepa.org.uk or 03000 99 66 99  for more information.

We have produced a briefing note on Reservoir inundation mapping and you can download the Summary of the Reservoir Inundation Mapping Methodology. 
 

Reservoir risk designation

SEPA is required to assign a risk designation to each registered controlled reservoir.

What are the risk designations?

The risk designation categories are high, medium or low. Designations are based on the consequence of an uncontrolled release of water and the affect that this could have on the surrounding area below the reservoir.

The risk designation that is assigned to a reservoir will direct the statutory level of engineering inspection and supervision that is required at that site, with low risk reservoirs requiring a lower level of inspection than medium or high risk reservoirs.

How have they been calculated?

SEPA’s approach to assigning risk designations uses national datasets held by SEPA, the Scottish Government or associated organisations to provide information on the potential consequences of flooding from an uncontrolled release of water. The assessment is primarily an automated process which requires the overlaying of these datasets onto the reservoir inundation maps to determine the likely impacts of reservoir flooding to human health, economic activity, the environment and cultural heritage.

In those situations where a reservoir has multiple dams which are to be assessed, the overall risk designation assigned to the reservoir will be that of the highest designation awarded to any of the dams.

Does a high risk designation mean that the reservoir has a higher risk of flooding?

No. A reservoir can be assigned a high risk designation because of the features that lie below it which could be impacted in the case of an uncontrolled release of water. The features that are considered include domestic properties, infrastructure, business premises, community, agriculture, cultural heritage and environment.

For example, if it has been assessed that a railway would be impacted by an uncontrolled release of water then the reservoir would be assigned a high risk designation. The same would apply if it was shown that an 'A' road in a remote/rural location would be impacted.

Some reservoirs on the Controlled Reservoirs Register do not have a risk designation against them, why is this?

The risk designations have been released to reservoir managers in a phased approach and only when the final risk designation has been provided to the reservoir manager will it appear on the Controlled Reservoirs Register.

How can I make a representation associated with a provisional risk designation?

Following the registration of a controlled reservoir, SEPA is required to provide the reservoir manager with a provisional risk designation as soon as reasonably practicable. Once a reservoir manager has received this provisional risk designation they have 2 months from the date the notice was given in which to make a representation should they disagree with it.

To make a representation to SEPA, please read the Reservoir risk designations: Guidance on representations and reviews document and use the Provisional risk designation representation application form.

How can I apply for a review associated with a risk designation?

Following the registration of a controlled reservoir, and two months after the provisional risk is issued to a reservoir manager, SEPA must notify a reservoir manager of the risk designation. Once a reservoir manager has received this risk designation they have 12 months from the date the notice was given in which to apply for a review should they disagree with it.

To apply for a review to SEPA, please read the Reservoir risk designations: Guidance on representations and reviews document and use the Risk designation review application form.

Review Application Fee

There is a fee for applying for a review. The amount can be found on our website at www.sepa.org.uk/reservoirs.

Methods of payments are as follows:

  • By credit card – phone 01698 839 029 between the hours of 07.00-22.00 Monday to Friday.
  • Complete the payment through our web payment facility 
  • By BACS, bank transfer or standing order and please provide a remittance advice.
  • Send a cheque with the application referencing the reservoir name, SEPA RES/R number and reservoir manager name on the back of the cheque.
  • Visit your local office, who can accept cheques or cash.

We have produced a briefing note on reservoir risk designation and a risk designation guidance document with more information.

You can get information on designated environmental and cultural heritage sites referred to in your risk designation summary sheets on Scotlands environment map tool. Click on the Add Map Data layers button and search for the relevant data layers or enter the postcode or NGR of the reservoir in the top right-hand search box.

Reservoir Charging Scheme

The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 gives Scottish Ministers the power to make provisions for SEPA to recover the direct regulatory and administrative costs of carrying out SEPA’s duties in relation to controlled reservoirs, under the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 sections 14 and 23.

 

What is a subsistence fee & how is it worked out?

The invoice is an annual subsistence fee that is payable to us by the reservoir manager of a controlled reservoir.  The amount is dependent on the risk designation that has been assigned to the reservoir. This is because those reservoirs that have been given a ‘High’ risk designation require a greater level of regulation and effort from SEPA than those assigned a ‘Medium’ or ‘Low risk designation.

I’ve never had to pay a fee before SEPA took on the regulatory role, so why do I now?

The reason SEPA has to charge a subsistence fee is that the Scottish Government has stipulated that SEPA must recover the costs of regulating the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011. Previously the Local Authorities were directly funded and therefore the reservoir managers did not have to pay a fee.

This is the first time I’ve heard about there being a charging scheme, why wasn’t I informed before?

SEPA initially consulted on the draft reservoirs charging scheme in 2015 and as part of this reservoir managers of reservoirs that were previously registered with the Local Authorities were contacted to make them aware of the consultation process. SEPA received 29 responses which represented approximately 12% of reservoir managers and we responded to each of these individually.

In addition to the charging scheme consultation that SEPA undertook in 2015 we again consulted on the reservoirs charging scheme in 2017 prior to the release of the revised charging scheme for 2018/19. Again SEPA wrote to all reservoir manages who had registered their reservoirs with SEPA to make them aware of the consultation.

In other regulatory regimes there are reduced fees for certain activities, so why not in the reservoirs charging scheme?

Within the reservoirs charging scheme there are not any exemptions for such things as ‘environmental service’ unlike Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) water licenses. This is because the same level of regulation applies to all types of reservoirs with the same risk designation and therefore the level of effort from SEPA must be cost recovered.

What does SEPA do for these charges?

The work that SEPA undertakes under the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011, funded under the associated charging scheme, includes:

  • Improvements in reservoir safety by helping reservoir managers to comply with the legislation.
  • Increased protection to the public from the risk of reservoir flooding, providing greater security for people, property and infrastructure.
  • Proportionate regulation focused on reservoirs classified as High Risk.
  • A uniformed approach.
  • Consistency and transparency in regulation through dealing with one body (SEPA) rather than 32 local authorities.
  • Updating and maintaining the ‘Controlled Reservoirs Register’.
  • Ensuring emergency response contacts, procedures and engineer contacts are up to date for emergency responders.
  • Providing advice and guidance to reservoir managers with regard to the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011. This includes many guidance documents and briefing notes that can be found on our website.
  • Ensure non-compliant reservoir mangers become compliant and do not continue to avoid costs by being non-compliant.

Can I get a credit note if I have sold the reservoir to another party and cease to be responsible under the Act? If the reservoir is discontinued/abandoned can I get a credit note for the remaining charging period?

Yes the aforementioned credit notes should be issued automatically once the relevant notification and documentation has been processed by the RRU, if you have any queries regarding the issuing of credit notes for a reservoir please contact the finance department through the SEPA Contact Centre in the first instance.

Panel Engineer information

If you are a reservoir manger that is required to engage a panel engineer for your reservoir please go to the Scottish Governments websitewhere information is provided on panel engineers who can operate in Scotland.

If you wish to be on the Scottish panel of engineers you need to apply to Scottish Ministers. The British Dam Society is looking to encourage young people to pursue a carer in dams and reservoirs, view their video for more information. Supporting information and the application form can be found on the Scottish Government website

The Scottish Government have produced Word versions of the certificates, reports and written statements that are contained in the Reservoirs (Scotland) Regulations 2016 that must be used by panel engineers. These can be found on the Scottish Government website

SEPA has produced an information leaflet for panel engineers operating in Scotland under the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011. This leaflet notes some of the key changes under the new reservoir safety legislation.

Fixed monetary penalties for reservoir managers

From January 2019, we will be issuing fixed monetary penalties (FMPs) of between £300 and £1,000 to reservoir managers who fail to meet their statutory duty to send in notifications within 28 days. Find out more on the Fixed monetary penalties for reservoir managers page.

Contact us

For further enquires relating to the implementation of the 2011 Act please contact us.