The charity making life better by water

Canals aren’t just bath-tubs full of water

Lots of work goes into keeping your canals enjoyable.

Grand Union Canal & Tring Reservoir

Behind the scenes, it's a multi-team effort involving water managers, water engineers, MEICA SCADA engineers, maintenance teams, direct services construction and contractors, water controllers, ecologists, environmental scientists and volunteers to ensure that there is water in the canals and that they are safe and enjoyable for all.

You can see here how our fascinating MEICA SCADA team use technology to monitor the levels in the canals and count how many boats go through a lock, and much more. What does MEICA SCADA stand for?

SCADA trend
MEICA SCADA graph trend of the Wolverhampton level.

The Water management team is made up of water experts who use this telemetry data, along with computer models, to try and ensure that we have just the right amount of water where we need it.

There are eight hydrologists, two modellers, one hydrometric assistant and eight water engineers. The team is currently building a computer model of the whole canal network, to determine the likely range of impacts on our canals from the future pressures such as climate change, increased boating and environmental legislation to name a few. See our Water Resources Strategy for more information.

A screenshot of part of our water resources computer model using Aquator software.
Aquator software to model the canals.

The waterways operatives are out on site adjusting weir levels, opening and closing sluice gates to move the water where it needs to go. They are normally the first to spot problems and faults and many of the waterway staff have been working on the canals for years, and some even their whole lives. Their knowledge and experience is valued throughout the Trust and they work closely with many of the other teams.

Stourport-on-Severn, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
On site staff and volunteers.

We don't just wait for someone to ring up and complain about a water level. It's a constant task that requires proactivity and team work to help keep your canals topped up.

Our environmental scientists and ecologists are busy protecting the prized natural environment of our waterways. Because of their work, the next time you visit a canal or river, you'll have the chance to spot a kingfisher or water vole, dragonfly or butterfly. Our canals, rivers and reservoirs are some of the most bio-diverse spaces in the country. 30% of them have been officially recognised for their special environmental value. Whether they're creating new habitats, caring for wildlife while we're fixing up our canals, improving water quality or providing education, they are involved with all that we do.

HNC fish rescue
A fish rescue taking place while we drain a canal pound for maintenance works.

Click here to find out 6 things you didnt know about ecologists.

There's still so much more we do behind the scenes as we care for your canals. Why not get involved on the canal side or in one of our offices? We have more volunteers than staff at the Canal & River Trust and you could be one of them...

Last Edited: 20 September 2017

photo of a location on the canals
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