Friday, 30 March 2012

Kennet and Avon Water Resource: Update from Mark Stephens

Following a dry winter and spring, there is limited water availability on the Kennet and Avon Canal. It is therefore important that we all conserve available water resources as best we can for the good of the navigation, the environment and everyone who enjoys our canal.

There are a number of steps that boat users can take; sharing locks and ensuring that paddles and gates are closed as directed being obvious ones.

In order to allow pound levels to recover overnight and not stress the waterway system unnecessarily, it will be necessary after Easter to restrict navigation in the evening and overnight. This restriction will apply to the whole of the waterway between Bath (Lock 7) and a point east of Kintbury (Copse Lock, Lock 80) . Clearly, locking the canal up every night would be a huge undertaking for the staff who work on the canal and would detract from essential maintenance and repair work. I will be requesting that users of the canal observe this restriction, irrespective of whether locks are actually chained shut. If it becomes apparent that this approach is not working, it will be necessary to shorten the navigable day further and padlock as many paddles and gates closed as possible.

As the season progresses it may be necessary to extend the extent and duration of any restrictions. The River Kennet east of Copse Lock will be monitored carefully and action taken if levels are too low to sustain navigation. Similarly, the River Avon which supplies water to the canal between Bath and the summit will continue to be monitored; continued navigation relies entirely on maintaining a water supply from the River Avon.

At present, to the east of the summit, Wilton Water (Crofton) and the associated aquifer is at a sufficient level to supply water to the east side of the canal. Imposing a restriction to navigation on this section of canal will not directly prolong the availability of this resource (ground water level will reduce naturally as the season progresses). However, forthcoming restrictions will give the canal the best opportunity to recover levels overnight and for a freshening flow to be maintained. West of the summit the overnight closures will similarly give the best opportunity for pound levels to recover and create additional capacity for feeding the summit.

Thank you in advance for actively supporting the long term sustainability of the Kennet and Avon Canal.



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