Water supplies to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are running dry. British Waterways has announced that, from Monday 2nd August, sixty miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Wigan and Gargrave is to be closed to navigation.
All the locks along this stretch of canal will be closed, with locks padlocked and stop planks put in place above the top lock of each flight.
The closure will be between Lock 30 (Holme Bridge) at Gargrave and Lock 85 in Wigan. The lock flights affected are the Gargrave, Bank Newton, Greenberfield, Barrowford, Blackburn, Johnson's Hillock and Wigan.
The stop planks will help to reduce water loss from the long pounds above each flight to maintain levels for moored boats and protect the aquatic ecology but BW warns that some water will naturally drain from the canal once the feed from the reservoirs is no longer in place and that people with boats moored along the canal should regularly monitor and adjust mooring ropes.
Until 1st August, the current restrictions will continue to apply.
BW predicts that by the start of August the seven reservoirs that feed the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be down to 10% of capacity.
The remainder of the canal is supplemented by local river feeds so it at less risk, although the current restrictions will continue to apply to those sections after August 2nd. The section west of Wigan is fed by the River Douglas which is at "medium risk". If water levels drop much lower BW may be forced to extend the closure westwards. The supply to the canal between Skipton and Leeds is not currently at risk although monitoring continues.
BW will consider re-opening the canal in stages once reservoir levels reach 20% again.
Holme Bridge Lock at Gargrave