Restrictions placed on Wigan canals as water shortage hits

Poolstock Locks in Wigan
Poolstock Locks in Wigan

Water shortages have resulted in a series of restrictions being placed on the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Wigan.

Under proposals drafted by the Canal and River Trust, boats will only be allowed to enter and leave the Wigan Flight between stated times.

And overnight movement bans are in place for Poolstock Locks, with the aim of conserving water amid the current heatwave.

A Canal and River Trust (CRT) statement reads: “Following a sustained period of warm weather, we are experiencing low water levels in the Leeds Liverpool Canal and reservoirs. To conserve water, we are reducing the opening times of Wigan Flight.”

Between Lock 65, otherwise known as Top Lock, at Aspull, and Lock 85, canal boats will be able to gain entry to the flight between 8.30am and 9.30am.

And those wishing to leave the stretch will have to wait until 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

Canal officials say the locks will be left padlocked outside of these times.

Roving lock-keepers, from the trust, are set to patrol the banks, to monitor the passage and ensure water levels are maintained.

“This is not an assisted passage and staff will be around to help customers when needed,” added the CRT spokesman.

Canal officials have confirmed that overnight restrictions, which have been in force along the Leigh Branch since mid-March, will remain in place for Poolstock Locks, as well as Lock 88 (Pagefield) and Lock 89 (Ell Meadow).

Locks there will be opened at 8am and locked at 3pm every day.

The restrictions are set to remain in place until further notice.

Trial timings, which had been under consultation, had previously been announced for the Wigan Flight, over the summer, which would have let boaters leave as late as 6pm but the current orders supercede this scheme.

An appeal for boaters to conserve water has already been issued by the trust, with operators asked to consider whether two crafts could share a lock, and reduce demand.

In a similar way, boaters had been asked to consider inviting oncoming boats through, to reuse water wherever possible.

Those using the flight were also being asked to ensure all gates and paddles were securely shut, to minimise wastage, as well as reporting any leaks to the nearest CRT office. And as a last resort, enthusiasts are being urged to either explore less affected areas of the network or avoid unnecessary lock usage.