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BW announces early lock closure programme to conserve water supplies

As the drought grows, even before summer has begun, British Waterways has announced an early start to water conservation in the Midlands and South East region. 

Some parts of southern and central England experienced the driest year on record in 2011 and the Environment Agency recently confirmed official drought conditions in the South East. 

In January BW said they were spending an additional £700,000 investment on 24 schemes to improve water resources for the main boating season. While the majority of the network will not be significantly affected, selected lock gates will be padlocked overnight as a further measure to help conserve water throughout the summer. 

The restrictions, which will start on parts of the Grand Union and Oxford Canals at the end of March, will see boat movements controlled in some key locations with gates being locked at the end of each day to minimise wastage through vandalism or paddles being left open. Similar measures will be in place on the Kennet & Avon Canal as groundwater levels fall. These restrictions will be reviewed throughout the season and adjusted where appropriate and special openings will be considered at peak times such as Bank Holiday weekends. 

The restrictions have been planned following discussions with boating organisations, canal societies and waterway businesses. As a direct result of these discussions BW has produced special maps showing the restrictions and the varying potential drought risk across the network as a tool to help boaters to plan their journeys.

The navigational maps will be updated on a monthly basis and published with reservoir reports at www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/features/british-waterways-reservoir-watch 

Friday 16 March  | Andrew Denny  | 4.42pm, Friday 16 March 2012

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