August 2018 - The impact of the drought is steadily moving south to impact on increasingly large areas of the system, with London the latest as the rivers feeding the Grand Union and Paddington Arm drying up.

C&RT has told boaters: “Following the long period of dry hot weather there are continued low flows of water from the river tributaries that feed the Grand Union Canal, including the Paddington Arm.

“This is also the only supply of water for the Regent’s Canal through Hampstead Rd Locks in Camden and this is having a direct impact on the water levels on this long stretch of water (The Paddington Arm).

“Whenever water is passed through Camden to feed the Regent’s the level drops. Due to these constant low levels we have had to take the difficult decision to put in place temporary overnight lock closures in key locations to preserve water.”

The Trust has listed the locks that will be closed between 9.00 at night and 7.00 in the morning from Friday 10 August
• Grand Union - Lock 90 Top Lock only.
• Regent’s - Hampstead Rd Lock both locks
• Regent’s – Acton’s Lock top gates
• Regent’s – Old Ford Lock – top gates
• Regent’s – Mile End Lock -top gates
• Hertford Union – Lock 1 – top gates

It says: “We are monitoring the situation constantly and will look at reopening the locks as soon as practically possible please be patient during this unprecedented time and contact us on 0303 040 4040 for local updates and further information.”

The first drought closures were on the Northern canals with a massive stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool between Wigan and Skipton shut as well as the Huddersfield Narrow and Rochdale canals. The Lancaster Canal’s Glasson locks remain shut.

Later the summits of the Oxford canal were hit by drought with overnight closures to save water and now the Grand Union and central London canals are being hit. So far the Kennet and Avon is unaffected as are canals like the Shropshire Union and Staffs and Worcester – which benefit from large volumes of outflow from major city sewage works and the Llangollen, which actually carries water from the River Dee to a reservoir at it’s meeting with the Shropshire Union.

Brief storms have broken the drought in many places, but there is still insufficient rainfall to refill reservoirs or replace water lost within the canals themselves, through lock leakage and evaporation, as well as leaks in some canals.

Until the weather changes and there is a consistent spell of rain it seems unlikely that any of the closures and other restrictions will be lifted.
Unfortunately the closures coincide with the main holiday season and many boaters and hire companies are having to constantly change their plans to account for them, sometimes at some cost.

Photos: (1st) The Paddington Arm - now hit by drought restrictions, (2nd) The Shropshire Union Canal at Brewood - unaffected by drought as it is fed by Wolverhampton's sewage works.

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