K&A water supply and drought contingency plans for summer 2012

The possibility of navigation restrictions and stoppages is one of the reasons why Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act allows boaters without home moorings to stay longer than 14 days in one place if it is reasonable in the circumstances. So if you are trapped by maintenance stoppages or drought measures, don’t worry. Here is some information from BW about water resources, water supply and plans in the event of further drought, from the presentation at the Kennet and Avon Canal User Group meeting on May 3rd.

One of the wettest recorded Aprils; around 200% of average
70mm of rain recorded at BoA during the last week of April.
Long Term Average Rainfall for the whole of April is approx. 60mm
River Avon closed at Bath due to high flows
River Kennet not navigable; County Lock overtopped
Trees blocking canal at several locations following high winds during weekend of 28/29 April
All spill-weirs and hatches open and flowing

Driest recorded two year period between March 2010 and March 2012
Prolonged dry spell has depleted groundwater reserves and stressed river systems
Environment Agency has declared drought zone and Water Companies are implementing drought control measures
For full recovery of groundwater resource, approximately 150% of monthly rainfall is required every month for the remainder of the year

River Avon
Navigation dependent on river flow
West of Summit
Water pumped from the River Avon to the summit pound via a chain of pumping stations
East of Summit
Groundwater fed from Wilton Water (Crofton) east toward the River Kennet
River Kennet
Navigation dependent on river flow

Current (May 2012):
Notice advising that on-going dry conditions may result in restricted navigation
Signs on locks advising boaters to check that paddles are fully closed
Volunteer lock keepers at Caen Hill, Bath, BoA and Crofton supervising proper use of the canal
Boat Operators briefing customers with need to conserve water by sharing and correctly operating locks

Short Term:
Post notice advising that boats at Caen Hill, BoA and Bath will be required to share locks.  To achieve this, boats will be instructed to wait for up to an hour.
Post notice advising ‘muster points’ at Crofton (the Engine Pound) and Hungerford Town.  Boats will be asked to wait for up to an hour to pair up.  At first, this will be advisory.

Medium Term (Groundwater level low):
Navigation opening times introduced with the specific objective of locking the canal down in the evening to reduce occurrence of losing pounds overnight.  Propose locking up around 7.30pm and reopening between 8am and 9am
Muster points for sharing locks become mandatory

Longer Term (Groundwater level critical):
Navigation opening times reduced in length and frequency (to allow longer for canal pounds to recover)
Summit managed to allow booked passage only

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