Saving water when you're boating

There are some simple steps that you can take while you're out boating to use our precious water more efficiently.

Children opening a lock gate Children opening a lock gate

Plan your lockage

When you're approaching a lock, check whether it’s set for a boat coming in the opposite direction. If not then it’s all yours, but first look whether there’s space to share the lock with another boat - an extra boat in a broad lock can save the equivalent of 1,000 bathfuls of water.

Both of these steps will involve waiting - either for a boat to come in the opposite direction or to share the lock with you. Please be patient and see it as a good excuse to have a cup of tea, maybe stretch your legs and have a chat with passing locals.

It’s also a good opportunity to talk to other boaters about their plans and to see if there’s any scope for sharing locks further on your respective journeys. Sharing locks where possible makes the best use of the water available

Once in a lock make sure the top paddles are properly closed when you are trying to empty the lock and please, please, please double check that gates or paddles have not been left open when you’ve finished.

Show locks a little love

Save Water in Locks infographic

Locks are built to last and can take most of what we have to throw at them, but it’s important to take care when operating them to minimise the potential for leaks. When entering or leaving a lock, aim for minimal contact by ensuring that both gates are fully open – even if you are a single narrowboat in a broad lock.

By opening just one gate there is a greater chance of damaging the mitre of the other gate. Pushing lock gates open using a boat can damage the gate lining, increasing the likelihood of it leaking. And finally, please close paddles gently. Letting them crash down can damage or break them causing additional leakage.

In many places there will be volunteer lock keepers ready and waiting with a cheery smile to help you through the lock and to give you advice for your onward journey.

Hydro-friendly hygiene

Of course it’s not just out on the cut where water is increasingly limited and by taking just a little more care with the water used in sanitary stations we can all help limit water usage. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to share a shower with the chap in the next boat, just that, where possible, you take simple steps such as taking shorter showers, turning taps off while brushing your teeth and making sure no taps are left running.

Likewise, keep watch when filling water tanks to make sure that they don’t overflow. Ask yourself whether you really need to clean your boat or whether it can wait a few weeks – sit back and relax instead.

So there you have it. By following just a few basic, common-sense steps you’ll play a small but very important role in helping to survive the drought.

Can I do anything else to help?

We need all canal users to be vigilant about vandalism, as we have had some huge water wastages through vandalism. Please call the police if you have any concerns or witness vandalism.

Last date edited: 12 March 2019