Blithfield reservoir’s 65 anniversary

Blithfield Reservoir, in the Blithe Valley, is 65 years old.

The reservoir covers 790 acres and was created by building a dam across the nearby River Blithe, channeling water into the valley. It took 500 men more than six years to complete and was officially opened by the Queen Mother in October 1953.

Photo of the Queen Mother looking at the reservoir in 1953

Blithfield Reservoir now supplies up to 100 million litres of water each day, to more than half a million houses and businesses in parts of the Black Country, East and South Staffordshire and South Derbyshire.

As well as supplying vital water to the area, the Blithfield Estate contains areas of rare ancient woodland and an abundance of local wildlife, and was first designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1968 and re-designated in 1987 in recognition of its national importance as a habitat for wildfowl, in particular goosander, widgeon and a wide variety of over-wintering fowl.

Three footpaths at Blithfield take you through woodland, across wetlands and along the water’s edge. One of the footpaths includes partial access for wheelchair users, giving ample opportunity for walkers to spot the resident wildlife.

Blithfield Reservoir Walks

Find out about the walks around Blithfield Reservoir

 Blithfield Reservoir also hosts the Blithfield Fishery and the Blithfield Sailing Club.

A photo showing an aerial view of the reservoir

The Fishery has over 11 miles of superb bank trout fishing, as well as excellent ‘top of the water’ sport from a fleet of 42 powered boats and is popular for fly fishing.

Blithfield Sailing Club is a RYA recognised training centre, with training courses for juniors and adults of all abilities and a comprehensive club racing programme and inland championships for more experienced sailors. 

 Facts about Blithfield Reservoir

  • The reservoir covers an area of 790 acres and has a maximum capacity of 18,200 million litres of water.
  • This type of reservoir is known as an “impounding” reservoir and was created by building a dam across the nearby River Blithe, forcing water into the valley alongside.
  • At least 24 million litres of water must be released from Blithfield Reservoir every day to ensure the stability of the River Blithe downstream of the dam. This water, known as the Compensation Flow, must be released even when the country is undergoing drought conditions.
  • When there is a drought, the demands of the Compensation Flow become a problem. However, where the River Blithe meets the River Trent at Nethertown there is actually a lot more water than the river needs. So during the late 1990s, the company set up a scheme, which allowed it to pump some of the water from the river at Nethertown back up to Blithfield Reservoir, recycling its own compensation flow to help to maintain a satisfactory water level. The water enters the reservoir at the south-eastern edge of the causeway and can sometimes be seen in operation, if the water level in the reservoir is low enough.
  • There are three points in the reservoir from which water can be drawn: from the valve tower close to the dam; from the bottom of the reservoir; and through a pipe that extends out under the water about 100 metres from the valve tower. Using three points to draw water from minimises the impact of algae growth on the water, since algae can both discolour water and make it distasteful as well as clogging filters at the treatment works.
  • Other measures to reduce algae growth are:
    • Destratification, where air bubbles are released into the water from near the bottom of the reservoir. This has a mixing effect on the water that lowers the average temperature of the water and reduces the exposure to sunlight, thus slowing down the growth and reproduction rate of the algae.
    • The use of barley straw bales which gradually break down and decay, inhibiting algae growth.

Blithfield Reservoir

Find out more about Blithfield Reservoir