Canals are crucial in flood prevention

Across the country astute management of the British canal system has been crucial in containing waters from overflowing rivers.

Working with the Environment agency, British Waterways, who recently received a considerable increase in funding (see related story), have been able to anticipate the likelihood of flooding well in advance, a British Waterways spokesperson explained to edie. Water levels can be controlled in canals, sending excess water into non-risk areas further downstream, with each lock forming a single linear reservoir.

One example of the judicious use of canals has been with the Bridgewater/Taunton canal which runs parallel to the River Tone in Somerset. “We lowered the level of the canal in preparation,” the spokesperson told edie. Then, once the river overflowed, the excess water was contained by the canal.

British Waterways have also announced the proposed development of the ‘water grid’, so that the inland waterway network can be used to transfer water from areas of plenty to areas of demand. “The main challenges to getting a water grid to fruition involve raising canal banks for increased flows and widening some pinch points on the network, notably around bridges and aqueducts,” said the British Waterways spokesperson. Extraction sites would also need to be installed where needed, either for industry or potable water.

According to British Waterways, the scheme would offer environmental benefits as well as additional income to reinvest in the waterway network. Significant capital investment is required for the project, and to that end a prospectus is currently being prepared to help attract major engineering or utility partners.

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