Aire & Calder Navigation Breach

A breach occurred on the Aire & Calder Navigation on 20 December 2020. Following the initial multi-agency response, regular site inspections and important repair works are being carried out by the project team. Updates about the ongoing work are on this page.

Helicopter filling in the breach Helicopter filling in the breach at Aire & Calder Canal

Although we understand that local people may like to visit the site to see the work we’ve done, we advise people to stay well away from the area where the breach has occurred.

Update 26/01/2021

Despite heavy rainfall incurred by Storm Christoph the repair programme is still on track and we continue to monitor the site daily.  Following the installation of stop planks at Goole Docks last week, we set up pontoons this week and are sailing them down to site.  

Next week we will begin to install stop piles for the cofferdam (two dams across the canal) which is expected to be complete by end of February. This will then allow a full dewatering of the breach location so our teams can get on site to carry out investigations and determine the next steps in the repair programme.

Update 18/01/2021

We expect to start work onsite next week to put in place a cofferdam (two dams across the canal).  This important step in the project will allow the site of the breach to be drained so the team can gain access and identify full extent of damage and the cause of the breach.  We can then determine the next steps in the repair programme.

At present, metal stop planks are currently on their way to Goole caisson (these are the gates across the canal located above Goole Docks) to help control of water levels within Goole Dock and provide another level or protection to prevent any flow from the docks into the canal.  These will be installed later this week.

With sustained heavy rainfall forecast this week we appreciate this may be of concern, especially on how this will impact on repairs to our network.  At the Aire & Calder Navigation breach we continue to carry out daily inspections to ensure any changes in the condition of the bank are fully monitored and reviewed should any changes occur.  Our team is on hand 24-7, ready to assist should we need to support a cross-agency response to ensure communities near to our waterways are safe.   

We will continue to offer updates via this webpage as the project progresses and thank you for your continued patience and support as we make this repair as quickly as possible.

Update 05/01/2021 

We are continuing to carry out inspections of the breach site twice per day to ensure safety of the area. These inspections have confirmed that the repair is structurally sound and there is no further flood risk.  We have lowered water levels in the canal to reduce the rate of water loss from the breach and the escaped water is being pumped away into the River Don. The water levels in the canal are being managed through the pumps near Goole dock.   

Our project team met on Monday 4 January to begin work to repair the breach. The repair work will first require the removal of the water from a section of the canal around the breach point. This will involve the construction of a temporary dam at two locations by piling across the navigation to create a ‘cofferdam’. The design of these temporary works has commenced.

Once the cofferdam is in place, which we expect to be in the next few weeks, the water in the canal can be pumped around it in order to ensure a constant water supply to feed Goole docks. Until the cofferdam is in place it is difficult to be precise how long a permanent repair will take as this very much depends on what damage we find once the water is removed.

The twice daily inspection of the damaged area of canal bank will continue until this cofferdam is in place to ensure public safety.

Update 29/12/20

On 28 December our team, with our contractors - Kier, returned to site to place more stone and clay in the hole and this has considerably reduced the leak. The stone provides stability and the clay seals the passage of water in the gaps between the bags, and we have also spread waterproof material over the breached area.

We will continue to carry out daily checks to ensure the situation does not change. Water levels in the canal are now rising back towards normal.

Stones being placed in the canal

During the event, in order to protect water levels in Goole Docks, we closed the gates from the canal and pumped water in. With water levels rising in the canal we should soon be able to open these gates again though navigation will not be permissible along the canal until we have undertaken further works as a precaution.

Now that the immediate risk has been significantly reduced, we are able to begin to look in more detail at designing a permanent repair in the new year. Our engineers are considering the options and how such a repair would be achieved.

Although we understand that local people may like to visit the site to see the work we’ve done, we advise people to stay well away from the area where the breach has occurred.

Water being pumped into canal

Work of this nature normally requires months of planning; it is therefore a credit to our team and contractors that this work has been executed so quickly and effectively, especially across the holiday season.                                                                

We would like to thank all those agencies who have assisted in responding to this incident and all those people local to the site who have supported this work over the past few days, and for their understanding during this challenging event.

Update 23/12/20

On 22 December the team on site placed around 140 one-tonne bags of stone around the breach hole. With the bags in place and flow of water leaving the canal much reduced, the risk of any further flooding is greatly diminished.

We are continuing this work today, with the helicopter currently in the process of placing around another 100 bags of stone to further shore up the hole. Once enough have been positioned we will start to place clay around the bags to create a water tight seal and, depending on how works proceed, we anticipate completing the repair and sealing the hole by the end of today or at the latest tomorrow.

We are aware that where the water levels in the navigation have dropped, isolated sections along the bank have moved inwards as a result of the loss of pressure from the water. 

Whilst this looks unsightly, it does happen from time to time with canals where we take the water out for maintenance. It is not a cause for concern. Our engineers have checked the waterway this morning and will continue to do so. 

When the temporary repair is complete, our attention will turn to determining what caused the breach and the long term fix. We will be able to report more in the new year.

Update 22/12/20

Overnight, the flow of water leaving the navigation has slowed considerably, and the standing flood water in the adjacent fields has largely flowed away.

The helicopter is on site and moving the 100 one-tonne bags of stone into the breach hole. We will then make the repair watertight with clay. 

We would like to say a huge thank you to all of our partners who have assisted throughout.

Last date edited: 26 January 2021