Lee Valley Reservoir Chain

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Aerial view of several of the Lee Valley reservoirs

The Lee Valley Reservoir Chain is located in the Lee Valley, forming part of the border between Middlesex and Essex. It comprises 13 reservoirs that supply drinking water to London.[1]

The Reservoir Chain is a major geographic constraint; together with the Thames it is one of the two significant topographic features that divide the capital and define the communities on either side. The Lower Lea Valley, downstream of the reservoirs, is more integrated, with better east-west transport connectivity.

Geographic significance

The Chain separates Middlesex to the west, from Essex to the east. The corridor includes 13 reservoirs, two to three channels of the Lee, as well as marshes and parkland, up to a mile wide.

During WWI, the settlements on both sides of the Upper Lea were badly hit by German Army and Navy airship raids. It is believed the crews mistook the Reservoir Chain for the Thames and released their bombs on what they took to be central London.[2]

The corridor is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt and its national and international significance for wildlife is reflected by SSSI, Ramsar and SPA designations.[3] Lying between some of the most densely populated areas in the metropolis, the Reservoir Chain and associated open land provides a highly valued ecological, landscape and recreational resource for the local population.


The following waters are known collectively as the Chingford Reservoirs, which are a Site of Special Scientific Interest:[4]

The following waters, together known as the Walthamstow Reservoirs, and with the exception of one, form a Site of Special Scientific Interest:[4][5]

The reservoirs have the following characteristics:[6]

Lee valley reservoirs
Reservoir Water Source (see below) Water Supply Depth Capacity
King George V River Lea, New River, Lea Diversion Pumped 24 ft 8 in 2,750,000 gallons
William Girling Lea Diversion Pumped 41 ft 3,600,000 gallons
Banbury Lea Diversion & Thames-Lee tunnel Pumped 27 ft 11 in 650,000 gallons
Lockwood Lea Diversion & Thames-Lee tunnel Pumped 34 ft 2 in 550,000 gallons
High Maynard Lee Diversion, Walthamstow No. 4, East Warwick Gravity-fed 19 ft 150,000 gallons
Low Maynard High Maynard Gravity-fed 9 ft 10 in 33,000 gallons
East Warwick High Maynard, West Warwick Gravity-fed 19 ft 210,000 gallons
West Warwick East Warwick Gravity-fed 19 ft 176,000 gallons
Walthamstow No. 4 High Maynard, Walthamstow No. 5 Gravity-fed 19 ft 130,000 gallons
Walthamstow No. 5 Walthamstow No. 4 Gravity-fed 19 ft 170,000 gallons

Water supply

The reservoirs are fed by the following waters:

Water treatment

After being stored in the above reservoirs the water is piped to the Coppermills Water Treatment Works.[7]