Our long-term plans for Crummock Water, Chapelhouse Reservoir and Overwater

We've been working with key stakeholders including the Environment Agency, Natural England, Lake District National Park Authority, National Trust, landowners, local authorities and other interest groups to develop long-term plans that would maintain access for visitors, while sensitively returning these water bodies back to a more natural state. 

Sharing our plans...

Before any work begins, we arranged the first in a series of community drop-in sessions in October 2022 to share our initial proposals. We're planning to hold further update sessions in February 2023 on the following dates, with further sessions planned in August 2023.

  • Tuesday 21 February 2023 between 1pm and 7pm at The Kirkgate Centre, Kirkgate, Cockermouth, CA13 9PJ
  • Wednesday 22 February 2023 between 1pm and 7pm at The Wave Centre, Irish Street, Maryport, CA15 8AD
  • Thursday 23 February 2023 between 1pm and 6pm at The Carnegie Theatre & Arts Centre, Finkle Street, Workington, CA14 2BD

There's still a long way to go before we're ready to start work and we hope you can attend our next drop in sessions so we can update you on our progress as our plans are developing.

If you are unable to make any of the sessions, we'll also continue to provide the latest information on our proposed work and a feedback form in the drop down menu below.

  • Once fully operational, the completion of the West Cumbria Water Supplies project means that Crummock Water, Chapelhouse Reservoir, Overwater and Ennerdale Water will no longer be used as sources for drinking water supplies.

    As a consequence, we have an obligation to remove the water abstraction related infrastructure and restore these sites to a more natural state which will provide benefits in helping reduce flood risk and enhancing the environment.

  • We're further along with our proposals for Crummock Water, Chapelhouse Reservoir and Overwater - with plans for Ennerdale still in the very early stages. Depending on planning approval, we expect the work is likely to begin in 2025/26.

    You can download our proposed timeline here.

    Crummock Water and the River Cocker are subject to high levels of environmental protection.  The work for these schemes has been split into three separate phases:

    Phase 1 - Feasibility assessment which demonstrated that there are benefits to both flood risk and the environment from the removal of infrastructure.

    Phase 2 - Detailed design and environmental assessments to support the planning application.

    Phase 3 - Infrastructure removal.

    We're continuing to carry out investigations, surveys and detailed designs to develop the most appropriate long-term plans and, as our plans progress, we'll be holding further community and information sessions in 2023.

  • Our proposed work could involve removing the weir structure, equipment used for collecting water supplies and supporting infrastructure.  Crummock Water would still be a large lake water body, just with a lower water level. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, this could lower the water level in Crummock Water in the region of 1.35 metres, allowing rivers and streams to return back to their historical natural channels.

    The work could also include:

    • The removal of around 550 metres of the concrete wave wall to allow restoration of the shoreline.
    • Removing around 300 metres of the upstream concrete and block stone channel at Park Beck.
    • Reinstating the natural connection between the rivers and the lake removes the need for man-made fish/eel passes.
    • The existing pedestrian footbridges would also be removed and new footbridges installed to allow continued access.
    • Restoration of sections of the River Cocker and Park Beck.
  • Our proposed work could involve removing the existing weirs and the dam at Chapelhouse Reservoir and removing the equipment used for collecting water supplies and supporting infrastructure at both water bodies.  Where possible, we'll restore rivers and streams back to their historic natural channels.

    The work at Chapelhouse Reservoir could include:

    • Full removal of the 8 metre dam crest, pump house, spillway channel, overflow pond and abstraction tower.
    • Realigning around 800 metres of the River Elen, located at the bottom of the valley.
    • Realignment of the existing public right of way and the creation of a new bridge crossing.

    The work at Overwater could include:

    • Removal of the existing weir and a 50 metre section of the embankment.
    • Realignment of White Beck to the point it meets with the realigned section of the River Ellen.
  • We're also carrying out feasibility studies to explore a range of options to help evaluate and develop our long-term plans for Ennerdale Water - using the knowledge and learning from the projects at Crummock Water, Chapelhouse Reservoir and Overwater will be invaluable.

    The plans are very much in the early stages and there are lots of things to consider including:

    • Impact on the environment
    • Protecting and enhancing habitats
    • Flood risk

    As we work through the feasibility studies and investigations we'll be holding further sessions about our plans for all these water bodies.

  • We must demonstrate to the Environment Agency and Cumbria County Council that our assessment of flood risk is in accordance with National Planning Policy and that flood risk to, and from the proposed projects can be managed effectively without increasing risk to others.

    We've engaged with specialists to carry out extensive hydraulic modelling studies to assess how the proposed work at all three sites may alter flows. The key findings are detailed below.

    Crummock Water

    The weir at Crummock water is not designed or operated as a flood risk management provision as the structure is designed to retain water for drinking water abstraction, above and beyond, the natural storage provision of the lake.

    Crummock Water is full nearly all of the time and therefore flood flows are easily transmitted through the system and out into the River Cocker. Therefore, the weir does not currently provide any flood attenuation benefit to help manage flood risk downstream.

    The new outlet from Crummock Water would consist of two naturalised river channels, each approximately five metres wide.  The channel beds would create a much 'rougher' surface and assist holding back water during a storm event and slow the flow of water passing forward from the lake in comparison with the existing forty metre wide smooth outlet weir.

    Work at Park Beck would also contribute to reducing flood risk. The lower course of Park Beck is currently a straight concrete channel and provides an efficient way of transferring storm water into the reservoir. Our proposed work would remove this concrete channel and return the natural curves of the watercourse. This would reduce the rate at which the water enters into the reservoir, with multiple channels that would create several points of entry during high flows and remove the pathway for flood water to bypass Crummock Water and flow straight into the River Cocker. 

    The combined effect of lowering the water level in Crummock Water, the two re-naturalised outlet channels and the re-naturalisation of Park Beck would all contribute towards reducing the risk of flooding.

    The modelling is also assessing the impact for both flow and flood level throughout the River Cocker catchment and into the River Derwent at Cockermouth.

    Chapelhouse Reservoir and Overwater

    Chapelhouse and Overwater reservoirs, like Crummock Water, are not designed or operated as a flood management provision.

    The weir at Overwater was designed to retain a larger volume of water than would have been stored in the natural lake.  The dam at Chapelhouse was designed to create a body of water in the natural valley of the River Ellen (that is diverted around, and perched above the reservoir) to then allow water to be abstracted for drinking water purposes. 

    Chapelhouse does not route flood waters through it, this is done naturally along the River Ellen.  The reservoir is nearly full all of the time which provides little flood attenuation provision as it acts to store and retain water 'offline' for water supply and abstraction. 

    Removal of Chapelhouse does little to change the natural hydrological regime. Our modelling is also assessing the impact for both flow and flood level throughout the catchment down to Maryport.

    Click the links below to take a look at graphics and aerial images which help to demonstrate the existing and proposed top water levels at Crummock Water and Overwater.

    Aerial images: Crummock Water and Overwater

    Graphics: Crummock Water and Overwater

  • We understand that these reservoirs are valued spaces and an important landscape for visitors and the surrounding communities.  We're working closely with the Environment Agency, Natural England and our specialist ecology contractor to carry out a wide scope of surveys and assessments.

    The projects would deliver several environmental benefits including;

    • The restoration of natural salmon habitat
    • Removing barriers to fish and eel movement
    • Restoring natural flows and sediment transportation
    • Habitat enhancement such as tree planting, which form an integral part of our planning applications.

    We'll ensure that contractors appointed to carry out the work are experienced at working in sensitive locations, following practices during the construction period to protect the local landscape and habitats including sediment control to reduce impact to rivers, streams and lakes with measures in place to reuse materials in the wider scheme.

  • We hope you have found this information about our proposed long-term plans helpful, we'll continue working to develop these and will be holding further drop-in information sessions.

    The next sessions have been arranged for February 2023. 

    • Tuesday 21 February 2023 between 1pm and 7pm at The Kirkgate Centre, Kirkgate, Cockermouth, CA13 9PJ
    • Wednesday 22 February 2023 between 1pm and 7pm at The Wave Centre, Irish Street, Maryport, CA15 8AD
    • Thursday 23 February 2023 between 1pm and 6pm at The Carnegie Theatre & Arts Centre, Finkle Street, Workington, CA14 2BD

    Further sessions will also take place in August 2023.

    If you have any queries, please complete our feedback form

    You can view the EIA Scoping Opinion for Crummock Water, associated documents and the opportunity to comment on the application directly on the Lake District National Park website