British Waterways Brief on 2012 Water Resources

Issue date: 14th March 2012

BW’s Group Hydrology Manager, Adam Comerford, recently briefed representatives of AWCC, IWA, NABO and RBOA on the implications of drought conditions for navigation over the coming months. Adam described the £700,000 current investment in some 28 drought schemes to improve resource availability through pumped refill of reservoirs, lock gate repairs and new monitoring and control instruments etc.  
The strategy for maximising availability for navigation is based on modelling of water resources and preparing plans to increase and then conserve available resources so that they are enjoyed by boaters over as long a period as possible. 

BW have said they will share information on the latest resource position regularly and publish maps showing specific sections of the network which are most likely to require restrictions. BW are asking boaters to be guided by this information when planning their summer cruising.

Initially, BW are thinking in terms of concentrating navigation through vulnerable areas between 10am and 3pm. This will concentrate traffic and maximise water use efficiency. Volunteer lock keepers are being recruited and will be trained to assist boaters through locks ensuring an efficient use of water.   But, overall lock availability will reduce and boaters will be encouraged to give careful thought to their cruising plans. It is possible that the opening windows will need to shorten if there is no significant rainfall. We will give boaters as much advance warning as possible of any new or changed restrictions.

BW will issue monthly updates comprising information from the Water Management team and Waterway Units.  It will give boaters an overview of the water resource position and any restrictions in place at that time. Information will be communicated via various routes – Waterscape, Boaters’ Update (as well as specific ‘drought’ direct emails), text messages and via boating organisations and locally via Waterway Units.

Advice to all boaters is to check the latest stoppage information on the Waterscape website  before planning a cruise. Register on this page to receive email notifications of changes to restrictions on particular waterways. The free monthly e-newsletter Boaters’ Update will carry brief background reports on the water resource position more generally and there are FAQs available on the Waterscape website.