NABO Responds to Water Resources Strategy Consultation

NABO wishes to congratulate CRT on both the approach to, and contents of, this very fine and pioneering strategy-development exercise. The process of consulting the prime users of the waterways is exemplary and the proposals made are well-supported by evidence-based analysis and the use of best practice engineering techniques.

Overall, NABO is highly supportive of the proposals and the comments made in our responses are intended to be constructive, based as they are on input from NABO’s many professional members and active waterways users.

NOTE: The following are responses to the various questions contained in the on-line submission, please refer to the documentation for further details. See:

Q1: Key concept definitions: Agree

The definition of a navigational drought, which is acceptable, is not very easy to understand and a few examples might aid its interpretation.

An important issue relates to navigation by whom? This is important to define – a canoe, a small lightweight boat with an outboard motor, or a 72 ft steel wide-beam boat?

(Note: Odd to see the K&A defined as river-fed when the bulk of the supply is from aquifers at Crofton)

Q2: Aspirational levels of service: Agree

These are very practical. It is only reasonable for all users to accept that certain more vulnerable waterways, such as the Mon & Brec and Huddersfield Narrow, will always have to be viewed as special cases.

Q3: Restorations and new canals: Strongly agree

As much as we would like to see additional waterways becoming available, CRT cannot be expected to have additional liabilities imposed on them which would impact the level of service etc. they can give to existing systems. All proposed new canals and restorations must take this into consideration right from the start.

Q4: Five year modelling plan: Strongly agree

Q5: Uncertainties:  Strongly agree

Q6: Use of best practice: Strongly agree

Q7: Future pressures: Agree

The main changes in our society are important to understand, and the present growth is probably only being generated by the (mis) conception that living on boats is a cheap housing option. There is also a noticeable reduction in younger people otherwise becoming involved in boating.

Without getting into the causes debate, it is clear that we are in the midst of significant climate changes and these will need to be constantly evaluated and their possible effects catered for.

Q8: Other future pressures: A concern is the emerging picture of unbalanced usage of the various waterways: The London waterways and the K&A, for example, are under severe pressure whilst many other waterways are reporting a significant reduction in use. Consideration might have to be given to limiting boat numbers on specific waterways.

Q9: Whole life costs of schemes: Strongly agree

This is simply good engineering practice and essential in any long-term planning.

Q10: Phasing of schemes: Strongly agree

Q11: Dredging: Strongly agree.

It is essential that CRT captures the knowledge of those (now ageing) persons with detailed historic appreciation of the design of the waterways – it is not only summit pounds, for example, which were designed as reservoirs – the whole of the 16-mile long pound on the K&A was designed as such but the lack of dredging has resulted in this important design feature being lost.

It is somewhat surprising that it appears cheaper to construct a brand new reservoir than dredge an existing one: This seems to defy logic?

Q12: Side pounds: Strongly agree

Again, historic knowledge must not be lost

Q13: Lock leakage: Strongly agree

Greater emphasis needs to be given to the maintenance of lock infrastructure sidewalls, paddles, cills, etc, i.e. not just lock gates need a higher priority. More and more signs are appearing asking for locks to be left empty or paddles up. Resolving lock leakage and lack of dredging needs to be considered as a whole package and not as individual components.

It has to be noted that lock leakages/failures do not only impact water loss but the usability of the waterways, especially by commercial users. Boats running to schedules (hotel boats, trip boats) can be commercially-impacted by lock delays.

It should also be suggested that many of the written instructions to waterway users relating to “how to leave locks” need to be reviewed. In too many cases instructions to empty locks on exiting simply result in water wastage.

Q14: Strategy cycle: Strongly agree

Note also that the impact of new marinas etc, must also be taken into consideration.

Mike Rodd