The charity making life better by water

Messing about with boats

The water management team use state of the art equipment to help us manage the water in the canals.

Water management team using the M9 equipment.

The Canal & River Trust has invested in technology to make sure we've equipment that's suitable for accurately measuring the flow of water in a canal.

The water management team can use this ‘River Surveyor' kit to search for and quantify leaks, calibrate SCADA stations and generally increase our understanding of flows around the network so that we can manage it more appropriately.

It's a complex piece of kit, sending out nine ultrasonic beams down into the water, which bounce back from particles suspended in the flow. The detection of the same beams on their return to the instrument can tell us how fast the water is moving at each depth of the water column. As the instrument moves across the canal, the processing software builds up a profile of water speed, and some relatively simple maths can sum how much water is passing through the cross section across the canal.

Close up of the M9.

At the moment, the instrument is mounted on a float that is pulled across the channel, but in the future we may need to upgrade to have a remote control boat that can be more independent of ropes currently required, and so allowing us to use the equipment in faster flowing water and larger water bodies such as reservoirs.

We work closely with the hydrographic survey team headed up by Kate Rowlett. They use similar instruments to survey the bed and banks of the canal network, together with the reservoirs. We are one of their biggest ‘customers', using their data for a variety of uses including monitoring change in reservoir storage capacity. We can use their water flow data where we have recent coverage, but this equipment allows us to be independent, reacting to specific needs of the team and the rest of the business for water-related problems.

Recently we were able to support Patrick Langan investigating a leak near the Belfield Aqueduct on the Rochdale Canal. We were able to tell Patrick what the flow was upstream of his troublesome leak and so how much was likely to be coming out of the canal. At the same time we verified the feed from nearby Hollingworth, a SCADA flow gauge that has uncertain accuracy.

We can also calibrate SCADA flow stations, which historically we've paid consultants to do, so this equipment should be a sound investment for us and decrease our overheads going forwards.

Get in touch with us if you think this equipment might make your life easier on a specific project you have or if you are interested to learn more. Hopefully we'll see you out on the canal.

David Mould, water management team

Last Edited: 31 August 2017

photo of a location on the canals
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