Electricity North West (ENW) says flood defences protecting 2,000 homes in Salford, Greater Manchester are under threat due to vandals targeting a substation.
The substation, which powers the sluice gates which are designed to remove 1 million cubic meters of water, has been vandalised three times in six weeks.
The defences, which were installed following the Boxing Day floods of 2015, are part of the Environment Agency’s £10 million Castle Irwell Salford Flood Storage Basin protecting homes in the area.
Greater Manchester Police has said the vandalism is putting lives at risk.
Sean Leape, area manager for Electricity North West, said: “Entering any of our electricity substations is extremely dangerous and the people breaking in to this substation are putting both themselves and others in great danger, as well as putting the essential flood defences at risk.
“We’re urging the local community to report any safety concerns to us straight away.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the Environment Agency and the police to put in place extra safety measures to protect the substation to help ensure power continues to work the flood defences, especially as we’re coming into the winter months.”
John Greenway, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire catchment engineer and Reservoirs Act co-ordinator for the Environment Agency, said: “We want to reassure the community that the flood storage reservoir remains operational and continues to provide improved flood protection to the community.
“Whilst we have resilience measures and manual operating procedures available for the site should a flood event occur, this would put significant strain on our limited resources that could be better deployed elsewhere in the area in such a widespread flood event.
“We are working closely with Electricity North West to find a solution to improve security at the site allowing for the site to be operated automatically as designed going forward.”
Inspector Dave Whelan from the Salford division of Greater Manchester Police, added: “The flood defences were installed to protect residents and it is completely unacceptable that they’ve been vandalised and are therefore putting lives at risk.
“We are working hard to identify the people responsible for these incidents and would ask the community to pass on any information that could help us with our investigation.”