Pennine Waterways News

Friday 10 September 2010

Leeds and Liverpool Reservoirs: Levels not improving

The latest figures from British Waterways showing the levels of the four reservoirs dedicated to feeding the Leeds and Liverpool Canal's summit show that the total amount of water held has reduced slightly since last week. This is disappointing news for anyone hoping for a swift re-opening of the canal between Wigan and Gargrave.

The reservoirs are currently holding just 14.6% of their capacity, which is 0.1% less than last week's figure of 14.7%. At this time of year British Waterways would expect these levels to be around 60%. Levels will need to rise to around 20% before BW can consider re-opening the 60-mile closed section of canal.

While the two smallest reservoirs are still more than 20% full, the largest of the four reservoirs, Lower Foulridge, is at just 10% of capacity, a reduction of 0.4% in the last week.

A spokesman for British Waterways explained that the reduction was due to "transpiration" due to the warm weather during the previous week. The current week has been wetter and it is hoped that the figures to be published next week will be more encouraging.

There had been concern for the well-being of fish in pounds on the Gargrave flight that were drying up but recent rain has helped to raise the levels of these pounds.

The reservoir holdings as of 6th September were:
reservoir capacity when full current holding   percentage of capacity   change since last week
Lower Foulridge     1,557 million litres 156 million litres 10.0% down 0.4%
Upper Foulridge 442 million litres 97.6 million litres 22.1% up 0.2%
Slipperhill 170 million litres   50.8 million litres 29.8% up 0.1%
Whitemoor 658 million litres 108 million litres 16.4% up 0.1%
average holdings of these 4 reservoirs 14.6% down 0.1%

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. On Monday BW suggested to the Lancashire Telegraph that the canal could remain closed until October.

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).

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 Upper Reservoir. Photo: Richard Carpenter


  1. Who's to say that the reservoirs arent leeking as bad as the canal. Heard the other day that the canal around East Martin/ Bank Newton is leeking so bad that B/W are having to compensate the farmers. Its a bloody pity the boaters are getting nothing in compensation. Although we would be happy with water,a fairly basic need for boating I think.

  2. I think the photo shows Foulridge Upper Reservoir not Foulridge Lower...I had a walk around Bank Newton locks yesterday. Many of the pounds are empty of course but the one between locks 1&2 seems to be filling . I'd be suprised if the canal re-opens before the winter.

  3. I corrected the caption last time you complained, Paul but it seemed to change itself back!


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