Pennine Waterways News

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Leeds and Liverpool runs out of water

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


  1. un real i bet we dont get a discount on our licence fees

  2. Maybe B.W. will do something about the leeks at all Banknewton and Gargrave locks during the stoppages. Wheeee another pig flew past.

  3. Just a thought, if my boat is sitting on the bottom of the cut, would B.W. charge me parking fee's instead of mooring fee's?

  4. It is sad to see such negative comments posted by previous visitors to this web page, especially about a problem that is outside the control of BW. I never thought of other canal users as cynical people! They should be ashamed of their attitude

  5. The state of the Liverpool Leeds canal is below the standard anyone would expect; if leaks were repaired and locks refurbished to cut the amount of water just lost through the system then perhaps the closure would not have happened, regardless of the dry weather. That said, I think we all know that the canal system by large generates very little income and therefore BW has limited resources to keep the canals in good working order. With the country still reeling from the effects of the recession, it is likely that huge cuts will be made to BW's funding and therefore the situation is only going to get worse. The proposed move of BW into the third sector seems like the best option going forward however it is questionable as to how successful this will be in preventing situations like this ocurring again as the investment required to tackle the problem is huge; I suspect it is un-achieveable! Other than those few people who either live on the canal or holiday on the canal regularly, nobody is willing to contribute any substantial amount to the up-keep of the network. It's a sorry state of affairs however good luck to British Waterways as I think they are going to need it!


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