Pennine Waterways News

Thursday 2 September 2010

Leeds and Liverpool Reservoirs: Slow Progress Continues

The levels of the four reservoirs dedicated to feeding the Leeds and Liverpool Canal's summit are continuing to fill slowly, but it will still be some time before British Waterways will be able to re-open the canal between Wigan and Gargrave.

The reservoirs are currently holding just 14.7% of their capacity, which is 1.6% more than last week's figure of 13.1%. 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 currently more than 20% full, the largest of the four reservoirs, Lower Foulridge, is at just 10.4% of capacity and this has increased by only 0.2% in the last week.

The reservoir holdings as of 30th August were:
reservoir capacity when full current holding   percentage of capacity   change since last week
Lower Foulridge     1,557 million litres 162 million litres 10.4% up 0.2%
Upper Foulridge 442 million litres 96 million litres 21.9% up 3.7%
Slipperhill 170 million litres   50 million litres 29.7% up 7.7%
Whitemoor 658 million litres 107 million litres 16.3% up 2.2%
average holdings of these 4 reservoirs 14.7% up 1.6%

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. I think the photo shows Foulridge 'Upper' reservoir not 'Lower'...I can't see the canal being open before the end of the boating season which would be a shame as well as a severe financial blow for many people reliant on income from the canal either directly or indirectly.

  2. Thank you for the correction. I mixed up the captions of the two Foulridge images I have used.


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