Wa­ter stocks hold out – for now

Canal Boat - - News -

THE DRY WIN­TER and spring weather is start­ing to have an ef­fect on stocks of wa­ter in canal reser­voirs – but as we went to press, re­serves were still at lev­els which the Canal & River Trust says are noth­ing un­usual.

With Eng­land see­ing its dri­est win­ter for 20 years, April’s rain­fall to­talling less than one third of the long-term av­er­age and na­tional news sto­ries voic­ing fears of a sum­mer drought, Canal Boat asked CRT how its sup­plies were last­ing out.

The re­sponse was that April’s weather was hav­ing an ef­fect: sev­eral reser­voir groups had seen monthly per­cent­age falls which were into dou­ble fig­ures. Ex­clud­ing the Lan­caster (where lev­els are be­ing de­lib­er­ately drawn down in prepa­ra­tion for en­gi­neer­ing work), the largest drops were on the Leeds & Liver­pool (down from 93.6 per­cent full in April to 80.4 per­cent in May), the Peak For­est and Mac­cles­field ( 96.7 per­cent to 86.7 per­cent) and the Grand Union Leicester Line ( 98.6 per­cent to 88.4% per­cent – but else­where, for ex­am­ple the Shrop­shire Union, Staffs & Worcs and Grand Union South, falls had been much smaller.

How­ever, thanks to most of the reser­voirs hav­ing be­gun the main boat­ing season full or nearly full de­spite the dry win­ter, these falls still leave the canals in a po­si­tion de­scribed by CRT as “not par­tic­u­larly un­usual for this time of year” – and a lot health­ier than at the same time in other years, par­tic­u­larly 2011.

As yet, the Trust hasn’t seen the need to plan any re­stric­tions. Its Wa­ter Man­age­ment team is “mon­i­tor­ing us­age of each reser­voir, ad­vis­ing lo­cal op­er­a­tional staff on the op­ti­mum feed quan­ti­ties to en­sure ef­fi­cient use of the wa­ter avail­able” in case the weather re­mains dry for the rest of spring and sum­mer, and as usual its ad­vice to boaters is to share locks where pos­si­ble, be sure to close pad­dles prop­erly, and re­port any wa­ter prob­lems to the CRT.

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