Provision of Boaters’ Facilities

This policy statement sets out The Inland Waterways Association’s views on the provision of boaters’ facilities along the waterways. IWA believes that these should be minimum standards for the provision of boaters’ facilities.  Boaters should be considerate in their use of all facilities in order to keep facilities in good operation for other users.


Minimum Standards

  • Facilities at the following frequencies:  

Every 5 hours of cruising - water points, rubbish disposal points and portable chemical toilet disposal points
Every 10 hours of cruising - pump-out facilities (including those provided at boatyards and other third party providers).
In London, and other cities or larger urban areas, facilities should be ideally occur more frequently, eg every 2 hours of cruising.   

  • Recycling points at the majority of rubbish disposal points, their location known and supported by clear information about what can and can’t be recycled.
  • Capacities of waste disposal facilities should accommodate the demand.
  • Facilities should be maintained in accordance to the level of traffic that uses them.
  • Existing facilities should not be removed without a suitable replacement being made available.
  • Facilities should be adequately protected from vandalism.  Appropriate systems should be in place to deal with the breakdown of facilities in a timely fashion.
  • Water points should be suitably lagged so that they are still available for use during colder months.
  • Water points should be designed so that portable containers and water cans can be filled without needing a hose attachment.   
  • A short length of hose should always be provided at sewage disposal points for rinsing portable toilet tanks.  They should be fixed permanently rather than with a screw fitting to prevent removal.   

  • The construction of new facilities should, where possible, be on mains water and sewage and not rely on bowsers, septic tanks or macerators.   
  • Where electrical hook-up is provided, the electricity should be charged in accordance with guidance from Ofgem (the government regulator for gas and electricity markets).
  • Charging points for electric boats should be provided to encourage future use of electric power on the waterways.
  • Self operated pump-out machines provided by relevant authorities should have clear instructions and move towards pump-out machines that enable payment at point of use.  

  • Relevant authorities should maintain existing slipways (and provide additional facilities in appropriate locations) in order to encourage access by small trailable boats.  
  • Dry docks which are owned and operated by various authorities should be maintained and made available for DIY work by boat owners at an appropriate cost.  
  • Signage should be provided to make it clear that the facilities are available to all customers of the navigation authority.
  • IWA supports the provision of services such as pump-outs by mobile providers using appropriate equipment on board suitable boats.  
  • IWA encourages boatyards and others to retain or install equipment to allow the sale of electricity for battery charging and petrol in addition to red diesel (in order to encourage the use of the waterways by smaller boats with petrol outboard engines). 


Access and use

Good access to facilities is essential and should be achieved by ensuring:

  • All access points to a facilities site and the facilities themselves are safe, well maintained and meet all current legal requirements.
  • There is sufficient mooring space to moor alongside facilities for the maximum size of craft that can use that waterway.

  • Overstaying at moorings adjacent to facilities should be strongly enforced to enable visiting boaters to access them easily. This is particularly important when the facility is heavily used.
  • Provision of canoe launching and recovery facilities at locks.  


Further Information

More detail about IWA’s views on the provision of boaters’ facilities can be found in the Briefing Note on Boaters’ Facilities.

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