Drought conditions force British Waterways to close part of the Leeds and Liverpool canal

With some of the worst drought conditions for 100 years British Waterways has announced that it is taking the highly unusual step of partially closing the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

The planned closure will take effect from Monday 2 August, and will close for boating for 60 miles from Wigan in Lancashire to Gargrave in North Yorkshire.

The remainder of the canal will stay open for navigation, however there will be a restricted lock schedule to minimise impact on neighbouring waterways.

The towpaths are unaffected by the closures, although BW is asking all visitors to take extra care to stay away from the towpath edge as water levels fall.

Vince Moran, operations director for BW, explained that the hot weather was taking its toll on the nation’s inland waters.

“Canals depend upon a complex system of reservoirs and rivers to remain topped up with water however, the lowest rainfall in almost a century combined with high temperatures has left the regions’ water supplies at record low levels.

“We have been doing all we can over the last three months to conserve water levels within what is a popular and 200-year old working canal, and we would only close it as a last resort.

“However, our reservoirs are expected to have fallen to 10 per cent of their capacity by the start of August, at which point we must close off the water supply so as to be better able to manage the impact on navigation and wildlife.

Unless there is significant rainfall within the next fortnight BW will be forced to shut off the water supply from all seven reservoirs that feed the 127-mile canal.

The stoppages are expected to continue until water levels are restored to normal.

For up-to-date information on the restrictions visit www.waterscape.com or telephone 0113 281 6850.

Picture credit: jimd2007