Water stocks hold out – for now
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.