The Rochdale Canal could run out of water in August unless there is significant rainfall before then, warned British Waterways' Manchester and Pennine area manager David Baldacchino today.
As the North West experiences the driest period since the 1920s, the continuing dry weather means that water supplies to the Rochdale Canal summit are looking increasingly uncertain. On top of this, BW learnt yesterday that one of their major feeds has been stopped. Mr Baldacchino warned that without significant rainfall soon, it looks likely that the water supply to the summit area will run out some time in mid August.
BW may soon be forced to suspend navigation across the summit and other parts of the canal until water supplies have been replenished. With this is mind, BW has stopped taking bookings for summit passages from mid August. They are also contacting people who have bookings in the period leading up to that time to discuss options with them.
We are happy to keep a provisional bookings list for the period after this date in case the situation changes, but clearly we cannot commit to being able to fulfil these bookings.
Also, and with immediate effect, British Waterways is asking boaters using Tuel Deep Lock in Sowerby Bridge to wait and share the lock with another boat, with the lock keeper at the site controlling this.
Mr Baldacchino added that BW will do its best to keep the canal open for as long as possible. Any enquiries regarding the situation should be made to BW on 01782 785703.
BW is hopeful that the water-based activities that will be part of the Rochdale Canal Festival at the end of July and beginning of August will not be affected, although no promises can be made.
Update 2nd July:
As water resources on the Rochdale Canal summit are diminishing with no sign in near future of replenishment, BW is reducing the number of passages across the summit. Only two boats a day in each direction will be allowed passage. Boaters should book their passage through the Red Bull office on 01782 785703, but be aware that the date they want may not always be available due to other bookings.
Rochdale Canal Summit