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    Save Water on the Canals: Our Top Tips for Conservation this Summer

    Posted: 7th June 2023

    Prepare for a dry summer on the canals with our water conservation tips.

    While we're loving this heatwave, over the last few weeks or so we're sure you've noticed very little rainfall.

    While we can't be sure of what the weather will bring long-term, we think it's time to plan for a dry spell this summer. Let's take a look at what we can do over the coming months and to conserve water use on our canals as much as possible.

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    Using and Sharing Locks

    Approaching a lock? Check if it's ready for another boat coming in the opposite direction and whether you can share the lock.

    Sharing a broad lock can save about 1000 bathtubs worth of water! Sometimes you might have to wait, but why not use that time as the perfect opportunity for a cuppa, a chat or a leg stretch. Perhaps you can chat with the other boaters about their plans and see if you can share any more locks further down your journeys.

    When you're in the lock, ensure those top paddles are closed tight when emptying. And don't forget to double, triple check that gates or paddles are securely closed before you move on. Let's keep that water where it belongs!


    Treat the Lock with Respect

    Locks are pretty tough and built to last. They can take most of what we throw at them, but it’s important we treat them with care to avoid any leaks or mishaps.

    When entering or leaving a lock, aim for minimal contact with the gates by ensuring that leaves are fully open, even if you are a single narrowboat in a broad lock.

    When you're entering or leaving a lock, remember to keep the gates open fully. Even if you're the only narrowboat in a spacious lock, it's better to give plenty of space. Opening just one gate can cause damage to the other gate's mitre, and using your boat to push the gates can lead to leaks. And when closing the paddles, let's do it gently to avoid them coming crashing down.

    Keep an eye out for volunteer lock keepers along the way. They're there to lend a hand and offer some handy tips for your journey ahead. Let's make this lock experience smooth sailing!

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    Remember to THRIFT

    The Canal & River Trust kindly created the 'THRIFT' code, an easy-to-remember acronym to remind you of the simple water-saving steps we've covered:


    • Two in a lock? Share locks.
    • Help keep it in. Make sure gates and paddles are shut.
    • Report any leaks to the Canal & River Trust.
    • Invite oncoming boats through. Don’t empty or fill locks if someone else can use the water!
    • Find another favourite. Explore quieter parts of the network.
    • Think ahead. Plan your journey to minimise lock usage.
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    How Else Can I Help?

    The Canal & River Trust have got a small favour to ask from all you amazing canal users out there. Let's keep an eye out for any signs of vandalism, because our waterways have had their fair share of water wastage in the past. If you see anything suspicious or have concerns, don't hesitate to give the police a ring.

    If you happen to stumble upon a problem with a lock or notice some unexpected leakage, it would be great if you could report it to the Canal & River Trust. Just call 0303 040 4040 where they're happy to help 7 days a week (From 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, or 9am to 5pm on weekends and bank holidays).

    And have you ever thought of volunteering your time to protect our waterways? Volunteer lock keepers play a vital role in helping boaters navigate the locks efficiently. The CRT are always welcoming more volunteers, so if you think you might be interested, head over to their website. You'll find all the information you need, including specific locks where they could really use some extra hands!

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    Minimise Your Water Use

    We know that water can become increasingly scarce in the summer, not just out on the cut but also at the sanitary stations. But here's the deal: if we all take a little extra care with our water usage there, it can make a big difference.

    There are lots of simple steps you can take to reduce your water usage this summer. Things like having shorter showers, turning off the taps while brushing your teeth and making sure no taps are left running can go a long way.

    Remember to keep an eye on your water tanks when you're filling them up. We don't want any accidental overflows! And during a hosepipe ban, please use the water points solely for filling up your water tank for drinking and hygiene purposes.

    And when it comes to washing your boat, please resist the temptation to use a hose or jet washer at the water point. Take a moment to ask yourself if it's really necessary to clean your boat right away, or if it can wait a bit.

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    When it comes to saving water while boating, every little effort counts. With uncertain rainfall patterns, it's important to plan ahead and conserve water as much as possible. By following simple steps like sharing locks, taking care of lock gates, and reporting any leaks, we can contribute to water conservation and ensure we can all enjoy the canal network all summer long.

    Visit the Canal & River Trust website.

    Find out more top tips and interesting information on our blog.

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