The development of a new dam or reservoir, the final choice of site and design of the structure will depend not only on the topography but also on the geology, seismic activity and environmental impact.

Arup’s dams and water structures expertise spans across all water retaining structures. Our services include risk studies, planning and feasibility, through to design stages and construction management and technical support. Other skillsets include hydrology and hydraulics, structural and geotechnical and supported by specialists in seismic, planning, and environmental consulting. 

Business and project strategy

Developing a strategy for the future management of water resources is imperative to meet future user needs. This can lead to planning and promotion of proposed reservoirs as well as an understanding on the risk posed by a portfolio of dams, which can aid an owner in programming of maintenance works, surveillance schemes and emergency planning. Our strategic services include:

  • Asset management advice
  • Risk and resilience management
  • Strategic operational advice
  • Hydrology and water resources planning
  • Planning and promotion of proposed developments
  • Financial and commercial advice

Investigations and specialist studies

We support our clients by providing the full range of investigation and specialist studies required on dams and reservoirs. We guide our clients through the scoping, procurement, implementation and interpretation of these studies, providing expert advice at all stages. 

  • Scoping, management and interpretation of ground investigation
  • Flood studies and hydraulic analysis
  • Dam break analysis and inundation modelling
  • Geotechnical, structural and seismic analysis
  • Environmental impact and water framework directive compliance
  • Options appraisal
  • Value engineering
  • Dam and reservoir design

We help clients by carrying out a vital desk and feasibility study to ensure the most effective solution to both new build and remedial works on ageing structures. We then develop designs that balance environmental, heritage, cultural and cost efficiency drivers. We support clients through planning, design, contract management and supervision of construction:

  • Environmental and sustainability assessments
  • Planning support and advice
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Hydrogeology and geotechnical appraisal
  • Stability and seismic analysis
  • CFD modelling and supervision of physical modelling
  • Detailed design and procurement support
  • Construction supervision and contract management
  • Decommissioning of existing assets
  • Rehabilitation

Remedial works are required due to the gradual deterioration of a dam and its associated appurtenant works, combined with the imposition of stricter requirements for flood, seismic and the risk caused by the failure of the asset. This includes performance monitoring, strengthening works, raising existing dams, design of remedial works, and improvements to spillways and draw off facilities.

Panel engineer services

Regular inspection and supervision of existing dams is imperative in minimising risk and highlighting potential issues in a timely manner. We offer technical reviews and expert advice, providing supervising panel engineers under UK reservoir legislation. Our instrumentation advice includes data presentation and performance analysis for all structures.

Expert advice 

Arup is at the forefront of technical developments in the water industry and can provide in-house experts across a wide range of specialisms to support our clients, sharing lessons learnt across the industry. We offer risk assessments, training for owners, operators and supervising engineers, emergency planning and a reservoir drawdown advice, including incident management. We also play the role of expert witness and carry out due diligence and technical reviews. We also offer:

  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and dam breach
  • Hydropower assessment and implementation
  • Tunnelling, MEICA and materials: pipework, valves and metalwork appraisal