We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Using technology to manage water levels

We aren’t shy about using modern technology to ensure that our canals run smoothly for everyone to enjoy.

We’ve developed a system that allows us to monitor water levels across our canals and rivers. It automatically makes decisions to start pumps or open sluices to ensure that the water in the canals stays at just the right depth.

Should it look like there’s too much or too little water, or a piece of equipment needs some attention, notifications are also sent out to the local staff.

The system

The technical term for the water monitoring system is SCADA, which stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. It’s a bit of a mouthful but it really does encapsulate what the system does. The system not only monitors but also allows us to adjust our water control structures so we can quickly respond to changing conditions.

SCADA has been in development for over a decade now during which time we have been upgrading where appropriate. In the early days all of our instruments were connected to local offices via telephone lines. Although they provided essential information they were too expensive to put in anything other than the most important locations, and even then only when it wasn’t too far away from the telephone network.

Since those early days a lot has changed and now, in partnership with the mobile phone companies, the system of water monitoring and control instruments all communicate with our central systems over mobile phone networks.

In addition all of this critical information is now available phones and tablets. This allows staff on the bankside to access information in addition to those in the office.

Leading the way

The nature of the canal network and the remote locations of some of our monitoring sites means that in many cases we are leading the way with this technology. By developing the system ourselves we have built a secure and robust system that can easily adapt to the challenges of the future.

The fact that we monitor all sorts of status information about the pumps and sluices means that we know exactly how much water has moved around the network. This allows us to plan in the maintenance of the equipment to ensure it’s always running efficiently. But we don’t just monitor water levels, we also control some much larger structures including automated locks and swing bridges.

Our work is never done and we’re always looking ahead to see what opportunities and challenges are just over the horizon.

Last date edited: 16 December 2015