Leicester is shut as water runs short
FACED WITH THE prospect of reservoirs falling to minimum levels, the Canal & River Trust has “temporarily and reluctantly” closed the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal as a through-route – and warned that although other closures appear to have been avoided for this year, it is already looking ahead to 2018.
The decision, influenced particularly by the low levels of Naseby Reservoir which failed to recover to its normal levels last winter, comes despite CRT’s efforts to re-line lock gates on the route to reduce leakage.
It affects the length from Lock 30 at Kilby Bridge northwards to Lock 38, King’s Lock in Leicester.
As we went to press the Trust was unable to give any details of the likely length of the closure.
Elsewhere, the network has avoided indefinite closures.
There have, however, been short-term stoppages to allow levels to recover on the Kennet & Avon summit, restricted hours at Wigan Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool since spring, overnight closures on the Regents, and a reduction (since lifted) to five-day opening around the Rochdale Canal summit.
Some might point to the often poor summer weather and ask how the canals can still be short of water, but the Environment Agency explained that with low groundwater levels after the dry winter and spring, the effects of the wet weather have been small and short-lived.
The main concern now is that given the poor groundwater situation, without heavy autumn rain there is a risk that a second dry winter could leave the system unprepared for the start of the busy cruising season in 2018, as happened in 2011 to 2012.
Locks north of Leicester have been closed