Boat owners on UK’s longest canal stuck due to record water shortage in heatwave

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Boats could become stuck on parts of the UK’s longest canal amid water shortages (iStock/Getty Images)
Boats could become stuck on parts of the UK’s longest canal amid water shortages (iStock/Getty Images)

Boat owners could find they are unable to move their vessels next week as parts of the UK’s longest canal are closed due to water shortages.

A lack of rainfall during the dry spring and ongoing summer heatwave has led to low water levels in rivers and some reservoirs in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

It means canal locks have not been filled to their usual levels and stretches of the Leeds-Liverpool canal will be shut at times next week.

Cheshire also saw locks closed temporarily last month after the region experienced “historically low levels” of water.

Canal boats were also left stuck on a stretch of canal in Coventry last week after a pump supply reportedly ran dry.

The Canal and River Trust is asking boaters to be “even more careful than usual” to conserve water after the Met Office and UK Health Security Agency issued an extreme heat health alert for parts of the UK.

The organisation said its swing bridges and other moveable structures are vulnerable during a heatwave as the extreme temperatures can cause them to become stuck.

The hot weather is also likely to cause an increase in weed growth which can make navigating difficult and in some cases leave stretches of waterway impassable, the trust said.

The trust’s website warns users of all unpowered boats on certain locks on the Aire and Calder Navigation canal not to navigate the waterway, while powered boats are advised to navigate with caution due to low water levels.

In North Yorkshire, rainfall has been below average since autumn 2021.

The Met Office has extended its amber warning for extreme heat for much of England and Wales until the end of Tuesday (Danny Lawson/PA)
The Met Office has extended its amber warning for extreme heat for much of England and Wales until the end of Tuesday (Danny Lawson/PA)

Yorkshire Water said the lack of rainfall has impacted water levels in rivers and the amount of water it has been able to collect in its reservoirs.

Reservoir levels are at 62 per cent, the same level as 1995 when 400 tankers of water were driven into Yorkshire every day to keep taps running.

And water levels in some of Devon and Cornwall’s largest reservoirs have dropped lower than 1995, reports DevonLive.

Yorkshire Water on Tuesday admitted it could not rule out restrictions, such as a hosepipe ban, and urged customers to cut down on water usage.

Neil Dewis, head of water, told the BBC restrictions were “just one of the tools” the company could employ.

Tempeatures have soared this week and are set to go even higher (Met Office)
Tempeatures have soared this week and are set to go even higher (Met Office)

The Met Office has extended its amber warning for extreme heat for much of England and Wales, with it now in place from Sunday until the end of Tuesday, with the hot spell expected to peak on Monday or Tuesday.

It warns that it could cause health problems across the population, not just among people vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to potential serious illness or danger to life.

Widespread disruption, including road closures and cancellations and delays to rail and air travel are also possible, as temperatures look set to soar into the mid-30s or above.

The public is being warned of the dangers of swimming in unsupervised areas of open water to cool off, and told not to leave pets or children in parked cars even for short periods.

Alfie McCraw, 16, died while swimming in the Aire and Calder Navigation canal on Monday after going missing in the water.

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