In response to a query raised as to why BW are running water east from Wilton rather than holding onto it, our BW Waterways Manager, Mark Stephens, has commented as follows:
In essence, the underlying reason for the apparent current waste of water is the way in which the east side of the canal is fed by Wilton. Wilton is not a reservoir in the true sense of the word. The quantity of water that Wilton holds is relatively inconsequential and can only support the canal for a matter of days without being depleted. More important is the underlying aquifer that feeds Wilton. Wilton is in effect a collection point for the water that is within the ground. It should be noted that this aquifer is huge and the specific demands of the canal are relatively tiny.
Given the above, while the aquifer is able to support Wilton, there is no reason not to draw off available water to feed the canal. Following the closure of the canal that was lifted in January 2012 we have deliberately been drawing a freshening flow along the canal; while the locks have been closed the completely static body of water within the pounds isn’t ideal from an ecological perspective. The aquifer continues to fill (at least for the time being). The quantity of water that the canal consumes is negligible.
You note that Wilton is as full as it can be (or has been within memory) and I agree. You also note that we have various duties to maintain a flow in adjacent watercourses that are, at present, desperately low; the Kennet is at summer flow levels. Additionally, we are letting water off the canal upstream of Hungerford to prevent flooding our lock works on the march. I will be planning to retain more of this water further down the canal when the Hungerford works are complete later this week.
I hope that the above answers your queries; the apparent waste of water from Wilton is a valid concern and I need to make it clearer to as many people as possible as to why our management of available water doesn’t appear to make sense. I have briefed the Trade Association and will aim to spread this message further this week.
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4 years ago