Log in
Article search:


British Waterways lifts drought restrictions

British Waterways is lifting its drought restrictions with immediate effect. The closures, restrictions and water-saving measures were introduced in March after some areas experienced the driest year on record in 2011. In the spring BW also announced £700,000 of additional maintenance expenditure to reduce water loss (for example in bringing forward lock gate replacement to fix leaky gates early). 

However April’s record rainfall dramatically improved reservoir holdings across the South East. Continued torrential rainfall through May and now into June has seen reservoir holdings return to average for this time of year. Indeed, in many cases reservoirs have refilled completely.

BW operations manager Vince Moran said this means that – from the perspective of navigation at least – the drought is effectively over. “Restricting opening times was a necessary measure given the particularly dry winter. But combined with the additional investment, and of course the heavy rainfall, our reservoirs are now largely back to normal”.

However he urged boaters still to conserve water. “The drought has sharpened our minds. Simple steps, such as sharing locks, ensuring paddles are closed after use, and opening both gates when entering or leaving locks to avoid damaging their watertight seal – all these can help in the longer term. The more water we have in our reservoirs at the end of the season the better equipped we will be to deal with the possibility of another dry winter ahead of next year’s boating season.”

He concluded with a gentle plea to the water gods: “Mind you, while I’m very grateful for the recent rainfall it would be nice to see it ease off over the coming weeks. “I’d like to see boaters get out there and really enjoy what promises to be a fantastic summer of cruising”.

The Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal has been closed for extra maintenance during the drought. It will finally reopen on 29th June and, apart from a three-day stoppage in July, will remain open throughout July and August.  Vince Moran says that overnight locking may be considered at selected locations on the Grand Union Canal where paddles are persistently left open.

More details of June’s reservoir holdings are about to be published in BW’s monthly Reservoir Watch:  www.waterscape.com/reservoirwatch

Wormleighton Reservoir, near Fenny Compton, after the dry summer of 2010.
Hopefully this scene will not be repeated this year.

Wednesday 13 June  | Andrew Denny  | 5.41pm, Wednesday 13 June 2012

You must log in to post a comment.