Kielder Water

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Kielder Reservoir
Kielder Dam in 2007
LocationNorthumberland
Coordinates55°11′N 2°30′W / 55.183°N 2.5°W / 55.183; -2.5Coordinates: 55°11′N 2°30′W / 55.183°N 2.5°W / 55.183; -2.5
Lake typereservoir
Primary inflowsRiver North Tyne, Kielder Burn, Lewis Burn
Primary outflowsRiver North Tyne
Basin countriesEngland
Managing agencyNorthumbrian Water
Built1975-1981
First flooded1982
Max. length5.65 miles (9.09 km)
Max. width2 miles (3.2 km)
Surface area10.86 square kilometres (2,680 acres)
Water volume200 billion litres (44 billion imperial gallons)
Shore length127.5-mile (44.3 km)
Sections/sub-basinsBakethin Reservoir
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
 
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Kielder Reservoir
Kielder Dam in 2007
LocationNorthumberland
Coordinates55°11′N 2°30′W / 55.183°N 2.5°W / 55.183; -2.5Coordinates: 55°11′N 2°30′W / 55.183°N 2.5°W / 55.183; -2.5
Lake typereservoir
Primary inflowsRiver North Tyne, Kielder Burn, Lewis Burn
Primary outflowsRiver North Tyne
Basin countriesEngland
Managing agencyNorthumbrian Water
Built1975-1981
First flooded1982
Max. length5.65 miles (9.09 km)
Max. width2 miles (3.2 km)
Surface area10.86 square kilometres (2,680 acres)
Water volume200 billion litres (44 billion imperial gallons)
Shore length127.5-mile (44.3 km)
Sections/sub-basinsBakethin Reservoir
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
Kielder Water under construction.

Kielder Water is a large artificial reservoir in Northumberland in North East England. It is the largest artificial lake in the United Kingdom by capacity and it is surrounded by Kielder Forest, the largest man-made woodland in Europe. It was planned in the late 1960s to satisfy an expected rise in demand for water to support a booming UK industrial economy. It was constructed between 1975 and 1981 by an AMEC/Balfour Beatty[1] joint venture, designed for Northumbrian Water by Sir Frederick Gibberd and Partners and consulting engineer Babtie, Shaw and Morton,[2] and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982. It took two years for the valley to fill with water completely once construction was completed.

The decline of traditional heavy industry, together with more water-efficient industrial processes and better control of water supply leakage, served to undermine the original justification for the reservoir and many came to criticise the government-funded project as a white elephant.[3] In recent years, however, Kielder Water has come into its own, with underground springs ensuring that it always remains at high levels, regardless of the prevailing climate condition. This means that while the south of England is often forced to implement drought strategies and hosepipe bans, north east England enjoys plentiful water supplies.

The reservoir's main use is to provide compensating discharges into the North Tyne to support abstractions of water further downstream. It also underpins the Kielder Transfer Scheme, whereby water can be transferred to the Wear and the Tees, to meet shortfalls in those areas.

With water shortages in southern Britain apparently worsening by the year, some opinions, especially the privatised water companies, favour the building of further reservoirs of this size. Opposing arguments favour better water-resource management, improved conservation measures, control of leakage and changes in social attitudes to the use of water to manage the apparent shortfall.

Kielder Water is owned by Northumbrian Water, and holds 200 billion litres (44 billion gallons, or 0.2 cubic km), making it the largest reservoir in the UK by capacity (Rutland Water is the largest by surface area). Kielder Water has a 27.5-mile (44.3 km) shoreline.

It is also one of the region's major tourist venues, attracting over a quarter of a million visitors a year who come to enjoy the wide range of leisure opportunities on offer.

There are two main visitor centres at Kielder Water—Leaplish waterside park and Tower Knowe visitor centre—and other facilities at Kielder, Falstone and Stannersburn villages.

Hydro electric plant

Kielder Water is also the site of England's largest hydro electric plant. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 26 May 1982 and is owned by Northumbrian Water. In December 2005, RWE Npower Renewables bought the rights to operate the plant and sell the electricity generated by it, with a contract lasting until 2025. Following the takeover, the turbines were refurbished in 2005–2006, which increased the efficiency of the electricity generation. Controls were also updated, meaning that the plant can be operated from Dolgarrog in Wales.

The plant generates electricity using dual turbines which produce 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This comes from a combination of a 5.5 MW Kaplan turbine, which generates electricity when water release takes place, and a 500 kilowatt (kW) Francis turbine that generates constantly from the compensation flow of water from the reservoir into the North Tyne. This gives the reservoir an average production of 20,000 MWh of electricity per year, a saving of 8,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year compared to fossil fuel based methods of generation.[4]

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