Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
When the canals were first built over 200 years ago, finding a reliable water supply to ensure that freight could be transported around the country was critical to the success of those early canal companies.
Nowadays, even though boating on the canals is mainly for recreation, the same challenges still exist. This is because every time a boat passes through a lock, thousands of litres of water are used. Also, water evaporates from the canals during warm and sunny weather, meaning that we need to regularly top up the water levels to meet these demands otherwise boats would run aground.
Supplies of water come from a network of reservoirs, rivers and streams, as well as being pumped from underground. We have a network of pumping stations at key locations to allow us to pump water back up lock flights.
The diagram below illustrates these supplies and demands:
To ensure the right balance between supply and demand for water, we need to carefully monitor, model and manage the water resources across the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers we look after.
Every week we record how much water is stored in our reservoirs and this helps us to decide which reservoirs to use. We share this information around the middle of each month in a report called Reservoir Watch. Why not take a look at the latest Reservoir Watch to see how our reservoirs are doing?
Every hour we record how many lockages occur throughout our canals and rivers at over 150 locks and this helps us see how busy our locks are and how much water we need to supply to them. We collate this information into an Annual Lockage Report which we share every January. Why not download the latest Annual Lockage Report to see which lock near you is the busiest?
We use the information from our monitoring stations, along with historical rainfall data from the Met Office going back nearly 100 years to run computer simulation models of the canals and rivers.
These help us understand possible future changes in water supplies and demands, such as the effect of a new marina or climate change. The models are also used to guide our day to day decision making on which sources of water are the best ones for us to use.
We combine the monitoring and modelling information to manage the water wisely. This can be to ensure water levels are kept topped up from day to day, but also allow us to plan effectively for the future.
This future planning is shown in our new Water Resources Strategy, setting out our aspirations for the next five years, but looking as far ahead as 2050 to understand the longer term pressures and challenges on water supply and use.
We consulted on this Strategy in autumn 2014, and produced a summary of the responses. The final Strategy was published in October 2015.
The team is made up of water experts who undertake monitoring, modelling and management of the canals and rivers to try and ensure that we have just the right amount of water. There are eight hydrologists, two modellers, one hydrometric assistant and eight engineers.
Together we work hard on a day to day basis to keep the canals topped up, although this can be extremely difficult in times of drought or flood.
Last date edited: 7 February 2018