Drive through the suburb of Llanishen, and you can’t fail to notice the “Save Our Reservoirs” placards planted in garden after garden as you go down the streets.

The reservoirs in question are Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs, two adjacent reservoirs to be found just to the north-east of picturesque Llanishen itself. Why are they at risk? Through a convoluted chain of events that started when the UK’s water utility companies were nationalised, they are now owned by Western Power Distribution, an American company that is reported to have spent the last nine years trying to get permission to build several hundred homes on the site.

At the time of writing, it is difficult to understand Western Power Distribution’s side of the story, as I’ve been unable to find any evidence of them attempting to connect with, or work with, the local community. Their official UK website makes no mention of Llanishen Reservoir at all, and they have provided no comments for any of the press stories that I’ve read. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Wikipedia page for Llanishen Reservoir repeatedly questions WPD’s motives for recent drainage activity at the site.

Finally, it’s worth noting that local BBC news coverage of this story has been sporadic throughout (there is a growing problem of poor regional news coverage from the BBC in Wales, as reported to the media regulator Ofcom), and that Wales Online’s Your Cardiff and Guardian Cardiff remain the best places to keep up to date with this story as it continues with no conclusion in sight.

The Photos

Double Fencing At Llanishen Reservoir

I found it utterly impossible to photography the current water level at Llanishen Reservoir, as it is very thoroughly fenced off.

Former Viewing Point Over The Reservoirs

There are plenty of open footpaths that run around the fenced off reservoirs. One of the footpaths leads to this viewing point, with this charming mural set into the ground. Unfortunately, because of the way the trees in front have been allowed to grow, you can’t see anything of interest from here any more.

CCTV Warning At Llanishen Reservoir

Lisvane Reservoir isn’t completely fenced off, but the same can’t be said for Llanishen Reservoir. It is Llanishen Reservoir that Western Power Distribution is draining as part of their 9-year battle to replace it with housing.

No Access Permitted To Llanishen Reservoir

Western Power Distribution, the current and controversial American owners of Llanishen Reservoir, have been very thorough in securing access to the reservoir.

Steps Down Into Lisvane Reservoir

The reason I came to photograph the two adjacent reservoirs was a report on the Reservoir Action Group website about how Western Power Distribution, the American owner of these two sites, had drained Llanishen Reservoir.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anywhere to view the water level of Llanishen Reservoir, as it is heavily fenced off, but I was able to shoot the fallen level of Lisvane Reservoir. According to the Reservoir Action Group, the water level here has fallen because water is being taken out of the reservoir for use in industry down in Cardiff Bay.

Car Park Opening Times

There is a car park at Lisvane Reservoir, which the signs say is open from 8am to 4pm “until further notice”.

Lisvane Reservoir Entrance Notice

… and this is the notice at the entrance to the car park, confirming the dangers of open water such as Lisvane Reservoir.

A Sign Ignored

Not the prettiest of pictures – I’ll hope you will excuse me for that – but I couldn’t help but notice that this sign appeared to have become a magnet for the very thing it asks people not to do.

A failure in individual responsibility?

Dirty Life Buoy At Lisvane Reservoir

To finish this set of photos, here’s a shot of one of the eye-catching life buoys that can be found around Lisvane Reservoir.

The future for Llanishen Reservoir is looking more and more uncertain, now that the Environment Agency has given Western Power Distribution permission to drain it completely.

If anyone from Western Power Distribution or the Reservoir Action Group sees this set of photos, and wishes to invite me and my camera for a guided tour as this battle continues, please do get in touch, as I would be very happy to cover this story as it continues its new chapter.

References

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

4 Comments

  1. Gillian Brightmore says:
    February 20th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    NB: Local residents now lead by ANDREW HILL have been fighting Western Power’s determined bid to destroy a wildlife reverse and a Victorian Reservoir built in 1854 to serve the people of Cardiff and now listed by CADW .as a listed building for last nine/ten years by an American owned corporate company ‘Pennsylvania Power & Light’who are attempting to destroy the Welsh environment for corporate greed.I for one would like to know who their shareholders are to condone such vandalism.
    There is to be yet another Public Enquiry in Cardiff JULY 4th -13th 2011 NOT to develop this site for the building of 324 luxury houses each costing in region of half a million mark.No wonder they are so keen to develop & destroy here.
    Over the years W/Power have deliberately downgraded this area the Keeper’s Cottage conviently ‘burning down’ on it’s own and the latest environmental vandalism they have committed is the draining of the Reservoir on the pretence of ‘inspection’ destroying the toad population who have come there every spring to breed as well as down grading the walls of the reservoir by doing so and allowing them to dry out.
    This IS AN OUTRAGEOUS ACT AGAINST THE WELSH ENVIRONMENT & CULTURAL HISTORY.
    Please join R.A.G to help fight the next Public Enquiry & Save Llanishen Reservoir for now and future generations to enjoy. GILLIAN BRIGHTMORE

  2. Gillian Brightmore says:
    February 20th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    NB: Local residents now lead by ANDREW HILL have been fighting Western Power’s determined bid to destroy a wildlife reverse and a Victorian Reservoir built in 1854 to serve the people of Cardiff and now listed by CADW .as a listed building for last nine/ten years by an American owned corporate company ‘Pennsylvania Power & Light’who are attempting to destroy the Welsh environment for corporate greed.I for one would like to know who their shareholders are to condone such vandalism.
    There is to be yet another Public Enquiry in Cardiff JULY 4th -13th 2011 NOT to develop this site for the building of 324 luxury houses each costing in region of half a million mark.No wonder they are so keen to develop & destroy here.
    Over the years W/Power have deliberately downgraded this area the Keeper’s Cottage conviently ‘burning down’ on it’s own and the latest environmental vandalism they have committed is the draining of the Reservoir on the pretence of ‘inspection’ destroying the toad population who have come there every spring to breed as well as down grading the walls of the reservoir by doing so and allowing them to dry out.
    This IS AN OUTRAGEOUS ACT AGAINST THE WELSH ENVIRONMENT & CULTURAL HISTORY.
    Please join R.A.G to help fight the next Public Enquiry & Save Llanishen Reservoir for now and future generations to enjoy. GILLIAN BRIGHTMORE

  3. Ewan Black says:
    March 13th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I used to live in a former farmhouse that backed onto Lisvane reservoir, it was a beautiful spot, what a shame to learn that it’s being neglected. As a teenager, I learned to sail on Llanishen reservoir.

    How have two such lovely resources been allowed to degrade to this state?

  4. Ewan Black says:
    March 13th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I used to live in a former farmhouse that backed onto Lisvane reservoir, it was a beautiful spot, what a shame to learn that it’s being neglected. As a teenager, I learned to sail on Llanishen reservoir.

    How have two such lovely resources been allowed to degrade to this state?

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