Pennine Waterways News

Monday 30 August 2010

Now Leeds and Liverpool suffering from Algae

There is more bad news for the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The shortage of water is leading to a new problem - the lack of boat movement is allowing blue green algae to spread fast on some parts of the canal.

The Lancashire Telegraph is warning people to avoid contact with canal water in East Lancashire, where the toxic algae is becoming a problem.

A British Waterways spokesman told the newspaper that the lack of water movement had allowed the canal to stagnate and bacteria to grow, while high winds had helped it to spread.

BW warned that the bacteria can leave people seriously ill and advise anyone affected to see a doctor, as contact with the algae could lead to allergic reactions such as itchy eyes, skin irritation, stomach upsets and symptoms like hay fever. The algae could be fatal to dogs and other animals.

The algae results in a paint-like scum on the water surface, which can be blue, green or brown in colour and contain toxins.

At the moment the worst-affected areas are around Rishton and Barrowford, with warning signings appearing.

The newspaper reports that BW has indicated that the canal could remain closed until October.

Read the full story on the Lancashire Telegraph website here.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Rishton

Saturday 28 August 2010

Plug Those Leaks, Farmers tell BW

A Skipton newspaper is today reporting that farmers are taking British Waterways to task for failing to tackle leaks from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The Craven Herald tells how farmers at Bank Newton, East and West Marton and Greenberfield have reported leaks from the canal onto their land, with "knee-high bogs" which have trapped livestock. One farmer claims to have 20 leaks resulting in areas of land too soft for machinery to be used. The farmers say that land is becoming unproductive and dangerous.

The report claims the farmers say BW "refuses to act or acknowledge their liability" and that it is "beyond belief" that BW has shut 60 miles of the canal while water continues to seep out from the canal. They are also concerned about the loss of trade by small businesses in the area that depend on visiting boaters.

A British Waterways spokesman told the paper that leaks were being repaired as money became available. "There are always going to be some leaks in this canal because of its nature. It is a clay base and very old and we have to prioritise our works programme to ensure the safety of our customers, the integrity of this historic structure and protection of wildlife." The spokesman told the paper that they were trying to reopen the canal as soon as possible.

Read the full story here on the Craven Herald website.

Canal contouring round the side of the hill at Green Bank near East Marton

Friday 27 August 2010

Legs Crossed on the Macclesfield

Boaters using the Macclesfield Canal over the Bank Holiday weekend may be in for a little inconvenience. British Waterways has warned that the pump-out facility at Bosley Locks has suffered a major mechanical breakdown and that it will not be possible to get the necessary parts until after Bank Holiday Monday.

BW advises anyone hoping to empty their tanks over the weekend that the nearest BW pump-out facilities are at Red Bull on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

There are non-BW facilities at Macclesfield Canal Centre, Bollington Wharf, Lyme View Marina and at Heritage Marina (Scolar Green) as well as at Portland Basin Marina near the junction of the Peak Forest and Ashton Canals.

Enquiries about this problem should be made to BW on 01782 785703.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Slow Recovery for Leeds and Liverpool Reservoirs

There is little cheer for boaters and waterway businesses in the latest reservoir statistics from British Waterways. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal's reservoir levels are recovering only slowly and there does not appear to be much prospect of the central part of this canal re-opening in the near future.

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

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Book now for Liverpool or Lancaster

Boaters who have been waiting for a chance to visit Liverpool or the Lancaster Canal are now able once again to make a booking.

Due to the water supply problems, on 5th July British Waterways stopped taking bookings for boats to use the Liverpool Canal Link to reach Liverpool Docks or the Ribble Link to reach the Lancaster Canal.

Today BW has announced that they have resumed taking bookings for passage from 1st September onwards. However, BW also warns that fluctuating water levels may result in changes at short notice.

Boaters wishing to book a passage through to Liverpool or to book a passage on the Ribble Link to get get to or from the Lancaster Canal should contact BW's Wigan office on 01942 405700.

The section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Wigan junction and Holme Bridge Lock, Gargrave, will remain closed for the time being.

Liverpool Canal Link

Friday 20 August 2010

Better Outlook for Rochdale Canal

The outlook for boaters wanting to use the Rochdale Canal is looking even better this week after British Waterways announced a further relaxation of the restrictions that have been in place.

Coinciding with the lifting of a hose-pipe ban in the area, BW is now taking bookings for passage over the Summit until the end of September.

The current restriction of just 2 boats a day in each direction will be lifted next Wednesday, 25th August. For a week from then until Tuesday 31st August, 6 boats a day in each direction will be allowed.

Then from Wednesday 1st September until the end of September, bookings will be taken for 4 boats a day in each direction. BW will review the situation during that time to see if this figure can be increased. BW points out that these arrangements are subject to sufficient water continuing to be available.

BW thanks its customers for customers for their patience during what it acknowledges has been a very difficult time operationally.

Boaters wishing to book a passage across the Summit or between Failsworth and Manchester should contact BW on 01782 785703.

Rochdale Canal at Warland

Thursday 19 August 2010

Low pounds delay boaters through Leeds

In another blow to boaters using the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the canal between Newlay Lock and Office Lock in Leeds has been closed temporarily because of low water levels on a number of pounds.

British Waterways has said that an update notice will be issued on Monday 23rd August.

The 4.5 miles of waterway between Lock 13 (Newlay 3-rise) and Lock 2 (Office Lock) was closed for the same reason on Monday, although no stoppage notice was issued. Paddles had been left open on Monday, although it was not known whether this was by boaters. BW ground staff worked hard to restore levels and the canal was re-opened the following morning.

If we hear that the canal has re-opened before 23rd August we will publish that information here.

Enquiries about this stoppage should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Update: 20th August
BW has issued an update saying the canal will re-open to navigation on Monday 23rd August.

Office Lock, Leeds

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Not much water yet for Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Today's photograph of Foulridge Upper Reservoir taken by Richard Carpenter will not give any joy to boaters wanting to use the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Richard says that the water level is usually well up onto the darker stones, which gives some idea of how low it currently is.

Photo: Richard Carpenter

Reservoirs that supply the Leeds and Liverpool's central sections are holding less than half the amount of water that they held in June. When levels were approaching 10% British Waterways decided to cut the feed to the canal at the start of August, resulting in the current closure of the sixty miles of waterway between Gargrave and Wigan. Some water had to be left in each reservoir to preserve the wildlife.

British Waterways will only re-open the closed part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal once reservoir holdings have recovered sufficiently. In spite of recent heavy rainfall it could well be several weeks before this can happen.

Monday 16 August 2010

Rochdale Nine Closed

The "Rochdale Nine" flight of locks through the centre of Manchester has been closed to navigation.

This follows an incident in which a boat struck a gate at Lock 92 (Duke's Lock). The impact resulted in the lock gate lifting and snapping the anchor plate that holds the gate in place.

British Waterways report that the gate is now loose and needs securing. The canal has had to be closed until the repair is completed. BW is hopeful that the Canal will reopen by 8.00 am on Tuesday 17th August 2010.

Boaters on the Bridgewater Canal intending to travel up the Rochdale Nine should moor at Castlefield and boaters intending to travel down the Rochdale Nine should moor at Piccadilly Basin (Ducie Street) until the canal has been re-opened.

This stoppage affects boaters navigating the Cheshire Ring between the Bridgewater and Ashton Canals. Any enquiries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 01782 785703.

Update: 17th August
The repair has been completed and the navigation has now re-opened.

Lock 92, Rochdale Canal

Monday 9 August 2010

Lock closed on Aire and Calder

Woodnock Lock on the Aire and Calder Navigation is currently closed to navigation.

British Waterways has announced that, due to a sluice failure, the lock is inoperable. BW staff are carrying out repairs and hope to have the lock re-opened by Wednesday 11th August at 4.00 pm.

This stoppage is on the Wakefield branch of the navigation between Castleford and Stanley Ferry and will affect boaters heading to or from the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Boaterd travelling between Leeds, Castleford and Knottingley will not be affected.

Any enquiries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 0113 2816860.

Update: 10th August
Repairs have been completed and the lock will re-open to navigation today at 4.00 pm.

Woodnock Lock

BW statement on water situation

British Waterways has issued a statement regarding the water supply situation on certain northern canals. The main points are:

Leeds and Liverpool Canal - closed between Wigan and Gargrave. While a few days of heavy rain recently was welcome it made only a slight difference to the overall reservoir holdings. The most responsive reservoir was Winterburn, but the result of the rain was only enough to support the canal for 3 extra days. The combined holdings of the other reservoirs that supply the summit of the canal are now 10.7%. (BW has previously said that the canal can only be re-opened once levels reach 20%.)

Stop planks are in place above the top locks of the Wigan, Johnson's Hillock, Blackburn, Barrowford, Greenberfield and Bank Newton top locks and at Stegneck Lock on the Gargrave flight.

In addition, paddle gear is being temporarily disabled at the bottom lock on these flights, to prevent boaters attempting to ascend the locks and becoming stranded.

Rochdale Canal
There is some risk of running short of water before the end of the season. United Utilities have given BW assurances that they can sustain the current 1 Million Gallons per Day from Chelburn Reservoir into the summit pound until the Autumn, as long as sufficient rain falls. BW is confident that this will allow them to maintain a limited amount of navigation across the summit although there may be occasional local issues with low water levels. The two river feeds are still in use but there are restrictions on one of them.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal
There is a low risk - less than 10% - that there will be insufficient water to last until the end of the season, although BW will continue to monitor the situation.

Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals
Two of the four reservoirs are blow average levels. There is a low risk - less than 10% - that there will be insufficient water to last until the end of the season.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Rochdale Canal to stay open

There is some good news for boaters as BW announces that the Rochdale Canal will remain open. This news comes 2 days after the closure of 60 miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. BW has been working with its main water supplier to secure additional resources for the Rochdale Canal.

There had been worries that the Rochdale Canal might be next to run out of water. Passage across the Summit has been restricted and BW had not been taking bookings beyond mid-August. However, BW is now confident enough that water supplies can be maintained that bookings are now being taken for passages across the Summit up to the end of August. Phone BW on 01782 785703 if you wish to make a booking. BW will contact boaters who have made provisional bookings to see if these are still required.

The current restriction of two boats a day in each direction announced a month ago will continue for the foreseeable future. BW also warns that, even though bookings are being taken, passage cannot be guaranteed, because of the ongoing water situation.

BW warns that emergency works are also being targeted at repairs to prevent water loss and that these works may lead to short stoppages.

The stoppage last month at Sowerby Bridge has now been resolved by a temporary pumping scheme but boaters should be patient if they experience any temporary shortage of water.

BW also urges boaters to help matters by ensuring that all paddles are fully closed after use.

Badly leaking gate on Rochdale Canal

Monday 2 August 2010

Sixty Miles of Leeds and Liverpool Closed

A sixty mile stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been closed to by British Waterways because of a shortage of water, in spite of recent rain.

The closure is 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.

All the locks along this stretch of canal will be closed, with locks padlocked and stop planks in place above the top lock of each flight.

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.

British Waterways says that the seven reservoirs that feed the central section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are down to around 10% of capacity. BW will consider re-opening the canal in stages once reservoir levels reach 20% again.

The remainder of the canal is supplemented by local river feeds so it at less risk, although the previous restrictions will continue to apply to those sections after August 2nd.

Update: 9th August
The canal remains closed between Lock 30 (Holme Bridge) at Gargrave and Lock 85 in Wigan.

Holme Bridge Lock at Gargrave