The four reservoirs dedicated to feeding the Leeds and Liverpool Canal's summit are currently holding just 13.1% of their capacity, which is 0.8% more than last week's figure of 12.3%. At this time of year British Waterways would expect these levels to be around 65%. Levels will need to rise to around 20% before BW can consider re-opening the 60-mile closed section of canal between Wigan and Gargrave.
While the two smallest reservoirs are currently around 20% full, they would quickly become drained if the feed to the canal was switched on. The largest of the four reservoirs, Lower Foulridge, is at just 10.2% of capacity and this has not changed in the last week.
The reservoir holdings as of 23rd August were:
|reservoir||capacity when full||current holding||percentage of capacity|
|Lower Foulridge||1,557 million litres||160 million litres||10.2%|
|Upper Foulridge||442 million litres||80 million litres||18.2%|
|Slipperhill||170 million litres||37.5 million litres||22.0%|
|Whitemoor||658 million litres||93 million litres||14.1%|
|average holdings of these 4 reservoirs||13.1%|
A spokesman for British Waterways explained that, although it has rained a great deal in many parts of the north, not enough of this rain has been falling in the Colne area of the Pennines where these reservoirs are situated. He said that this has also affected United Utilities' reservoirs in the area but, unlike United Utilities, BW does not have the facility available of pumping water from Cumbria.
The reservoir at Winterburn (capacity 1,270 million litres) is not included in these calculations at present because of BW's statutory obligation to supply a compensation feed back into the Eshton Beck (although some of this is being fed into the canal at Holme Bridge to maintain levels through to Skipton and Bingley).
BW is constantly reviewing the situation with all the reservoirs feeding the canal with the hope of re-opening the navigation as soon as this can be done.
The feed to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal summit was cut at the start of August, when reservoir levels were approaching 10%, resulting in the current closure of the sixty miles of waterway between Gargrave and Wigan. Some water has to be left in each reservoir to preserve the wildlife.
Foulridge Lower Reservoir - the level is usually half way up the stones. Photo: Richard Carpenter
Foulridge Upper Reservoir. Photo: Richard Carpenter