Log in
Article search:


GU Tring summit closed

With water levels in the south-east at an all-time winter low, BW is taking the unprecedented step of stopping the Tring summit level of the Grand Union Canal for the rest of the winter season, and allowing the water level to drop by around 12 inches to conserve water supplies. 

The stop planks are going in at Northmoor Top Lock (No. 49, near Berkhamsted) and at Marsworth Bottom Lock (No. 39, near Marsworth Junction) – will allow the water level to be lowered to below the upper section of the canal bank, which BW says is the section most prone to leaks. However, BW says this reduced level will not allow boats to safely moor or navigate and have given a week's notice to allow boats to escape the stoppage. The Aylesbury Arm is also being closed. 

BW says 2011 was the driest year for the south east since records began, and in some parts the groundwater tables and reservoir holdings are still much lower than normal winter levels. 

Jeff Whyatt, senior waterway manager, said: “The top part of the canal bank is often most susceptible to leaks due to the fact that it is continually wetted and dried and it is also subject to holes or cracks formed by burrowing animals and ‘wash’ from passing boats. By taking this action now, we hope to be better able to conserve water and be less reliant on our groundwater pumps which can then be used later in the year”.

 “Despite recent storms, groundwater levels remain lower than normal for this time of year which, in turn, means that reservoirs in the Tring area are refilling slower than would normally be expected.  This is placing increasing pressure on the reservoirs which are still required at this time of year to maintain the canal at a normal operational level.
BW anticipate the closure remaining until the start of the summer hours in March, but will be reviewing it weekly.

Wednesday 11 January  | Andrew Denny  | 12.12pm, Wednesday 11 January 2012


have been in touch with mr whyatt he tells me that up to 220 lockfulls of water leak off the summit each week- to admit this- as he says out of season-although i dont khow of any seasonal liscense available- surely is dereliction of basic maintenance and duty and shows bw are not not fit for purpose- i only hope they are doing something to cure these leaks while the stoppage is on-no other company could get away with charging for a service and not providing for it- and to have the main london to birmingham canal closed like this is pathetic....charity?god help us dave carden

davi carden  | 4.54PM, Saturday 14 January

Dave, while I understand your frustration, I think you misunderstand the '220 locks of water leaking every week'.

As BW's hydrologists have described it, the Tring summit was (historically) never properly sealed with clay ('puddling'), because the ground in the cutting was normally very wet anyway, so there would be no leakage.

However, the last year or 18 months has been so dry in the South East that the surrounding ground has dried out and the water table dropped, for the first time in living memory. The canal water is therefore now being drawn out.

If they were to seal the bed of the canal it could cost a large enormous amount. Bearing in mind that if/when rain resumes, it would then saturate the ground again and stop the leakage, so would have been a waste of time to spend money on sealing the canal bed.

That is BW's claim anyway. You might like to question them on this. I'm inclined to accept their geologists' explanation, at least during this dry spell. There are better ways to spend the money.

Andrew Denny  | 7.54PM, Monday 16 January

You must log in to post a comment.