Creggan dam can cope with excessive rainfall

A collapse of the upper dam of the Creggan reservoir in the 1970s, which sent a ‘wall of water’ in the direction of the Glen, is unlikely to be repeated despite the Rivers Agency warning the facility’s dams are high risk as 463 properties would be flooded if there was another breach.

The manager of Creggan Country Park told members of the Stormont Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, April 1, he believes the reservoir system, which once supplied Derry with drinking water is built to last and that the city is unlikely to be threatened by future dambursts.

Gerry Quinn, was providing evidence to the Committee as it prepares a new Reservoirs Bill.

He told the Committee few records were held about the incident in the 1970s but that the system has since held up well to excessive rainfall when other parts of the city have struggled to cope - not least during the floods of 2003.

Asked by SDLP Agriculture Chairman Joe Byrne, what exactly happened in the 1970s, Mr Quinn replied: “As far as I know it was just an inordinate amount of rain. There isn’t a lot of documentation about it.

“You’ll find it referenced if you dig very hard among water service records, you’ll find reference to it.”

Mr Quinn, who explained to the Committee that he has only been responsible for the reservoirs since the Creggan Country Park organisation leased them from Derry City Council in the early 1990s said there are few hard copy records of what happened.

“What I do know from speaking to the guy who fixed up there and lived close by is that it was like a wall of water that came down but it stayed within the overall reservoir site and didn’t affect any property downstream.

“So, I’m assuming the structures there held the excess. The structures below contained what came out of that.”

Mr Quinn said he believes the system is robust enough to cope in the event of similar pressure.