BW NW Water Resource Statement

British Waterways North-West Water Resource Position Statement: 3 August 2010

Following issue of the position statement dated 20 July 2010, the prolonged dry weather was broken by a few days of heavy rain.

BW issued a statement as a pdf file, including graphs, which can be reviewed here, or you can read the text below:

Leeds & Liverpool Resource Position


Following issue of the position statement dated 20 July 2010, the prolonged dry weather was broken by a few days of heavy rain.

While the rainfall was welcome it made only a slight difference to the overall reservoir holdings. The most responsive reservoir was Winterburn, but the refill here was only enough to support the canal for 3 extra days.

The canal closed to navigation on 2 August between Lock 85 (Railway Lock) and Lock 30 (Holme Bridge Lock). The remaining sections of the canal will remain open, operating under the existing restrictions, for as long as river feeder flows can support canal demands.
The combined holdings of the reservoirs that supply the summit of the canal (excluding Winterburn) are now 10.7%.

Stop planks are being installed at the top lock of each of the flights affected by the closure:

  • Wigan Top Lock (Lock 65)
  • Johnsons Hillock Top Lock (Lock 58)
  • Blackburn Top Lock (Lock 52)
  • Barrowford Top Lock (Lock 45)
  • Greenberfield Top Lock (Lock 44)
  • Bank Newton Top Lock (Lock 41)
  • Stegneck Lock (lock 35)

In addition the bottom locks at each of these sections will have the gearing temporarily deactivated, to prevent any boaters trying to navigate through the affected sections and becoming stranded.

Peak Forest and Macclesfield Resource Position
Two of the four reservoirs supplying the Peak Forest Canal and Macclesfield Canal remain below their long term average holding. As a result of being subject to draw down in preparation for major works in the Autumn. Analysis currently indicates that there is a risk of less than 10% that the reservoir group supplying these canals will have insufficient water to last until the end of the season.

Rochdale Resource Position
The Rochdale canal is also at risk of not having sufficient water to meet canal demands until the end of the season. One of the main licensed feeds to the canal is currently restricted, though we were able to use it in the last two weeks, and abstraction is dependant on the flow in the River Calder being above a minimum threshold. Environment Agency and BW have agreed a protocol of daily updates to determine whether abstraction can occur.

In addition, United Utilities have given BW assurances that they can sustain the current level of feed from Chelburn Reservoir (1Million Gallons per Day) into the summit until the Autumn, as long as throughout the remaining summer season the rainfall over the Pennine area is sufficient to yield the minimum historical inflows into their group of reservoirs. With this level of resource we are confident that we will be able to retain limited navigation in the summit area, but we acknowledge that from time to time we may have localised issues of low water levels.

Huddersfield Narrow Resource Position
Analysis currently indicates a low risk (less than 10%) that the reservoir group supplying these canals will have insufficient water to last until the end of the season. BW will however continue to monitor the water resource position each week.

Summary of Current Leeds & Liverpool Canal Position
Winterburn Reservoir, which supplies the Leeds & Liverpool summit, is below its long term average holding for this time of year. The current holding in Winterburn Reservoir will allow us to meet the reduced statutory compensation and there is scope to discharge some water to Eshton Beck to support the canal downstream of Holme Bridge lock if natural flow in the beck reduces.

The Leeds & Liverpool summit reservoir group (excluding Winterburn) is now at 10.7% holding and is no longer available to supply the canal.

Rainfall accumulations
Rainfall over North West (60%) and Yorkshire (78%) during this period has been exceptionally low and substantially below long term average for this time of year, respectively.
Rainfall received across the North West and Yorkshire areas during the first six months of 2010 were recorded to be below long term average, with the exception of rainfall recorded in Yorkshire during February and March. We are yet to receive the latest regional rainfall data for July from the Met Office and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. More significant to the BW water resource system, rainfall recorded by BW at rain gauges close to BW reservoirs which supply the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, received even lower amounts of rain compared to the average rainfall recorded across these areas.

Cumulative rainfall (mm)
Cumulative monthly rainfall totals for both Greenberfield and Bank Newton rain gauges show the total amount of rainfall received at each gauge each month is significantly lower than the amount of rain expected during an average year.

Unfortunately a long range weather forecast is no longer available from the Met Office. However other independent agencies are providing long range forecasts, they are predicting average rainfall throughout the months of August and September with the possibility of below average rainfall in October and November.