Just a Dam or 2…or 6…

Birmingham Council identified the Elan Valley as a potential source of clean water and so they acquired the land.  What did they build?

Work started in 1893.  Workers were housed in a village of wooden huts just downstream and first a railway was built to transport the workers and building materials to the construction sites. (The old track bed is now a traffic-free path.)

The initial plan was for 6 dams – 4 on the River Elan and a further 2 in the tributary valley of the River Claerwen.  The Elan Dams were completed quickly and opened in 1904.  (The Claerwen Dam was opened in 1952, while the other remains unfinished.)

Water feeds into the dams from the surrounding hillsides, which are grazed by sheep.  However, the farming practices are carefully controlled to ensure the water stays clean.  This is good for wildlife too and there are a variety of habitats resulting in great diversity of species.

The dams are functional and spectacular, especially when the reservoirs are full and the water overflows.

But how does the water get to Birmingham?  Join me again next week.