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The Elan Valley dams
  Why the Elan Valley was chosen  

The Elan Valley was chosen for Birmingham's new water supply on the advice of experts for 5 main reasons :
1 - The shape of the two main river valleys were ideal for making artificial lakes to store large amounts of fresh water.
2 - The rocks in the district would not absorb the water, but would hold it like giant water tanks.
3 - It rains an awful lot in the hills, so the rivers would keep filling the lakes to replace the water sent to Birmingham.

Link to map

The huge scheme of dams
and reservoirs was designed
by a great Victorian engineer
called James Mansergh.
This picture is taken from a
model which he made to
get permission from
Parliament to buy the land
and build the dams.

This original scheme shows
a series of reservoirs on
the River Claerwen, but these
were not built. Now there is
a large lake behind the 1952
Claerwen Dam higher up the
river valley.


4 - The new lakes would be high enough to send the water supplies 'downhill' to Birmingham without expensive pumping.
5 - There were very few people living in the areas that would be flooded, so it wouldn't cost much to move them.

A lot of people were against the idea of building the huge project, but the Birmingham City Council eventually got approval from Parliament in 1892, and work started in the following year.

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