Putting the water in our waterways

David Mould is one of our senior hydrologists. Here he tells us a little bit about his role and why he finds hydrology fascinating.

David Mould David Mould

I started working at The Trust in April 2012. At the time we were experiencing a serious drought, so things were a little busy in the team. However, that soon turned to flooding before things calmed down in time for the Olympics. It was an interesting time.

My job’s all about making sure that we have enough water in the canal at the right times. We want to keep our canals open for everyone to enjoy and making sure there is always water in them is key to this.

I love the way that each canal behaves differently in terms of their hydrology. They are all designed slightly differently. The Rochdale Canal is designed for excess water to flow down the canal over the gates, which worries some people when they see it. The Kennet & Avon Canal and the Rochdale Canal also have letterboxes, which fill up the lock chamber before water is lost over waste weirs, saving a lock-full of water. 

They are all really cleverly designed so it’s lovely to be able to refine that operation to make best use of water. However, more often than not we find that we’re taking things back to the original design and reversing ‘improvements’ that have been made over the years. 

We want to keep our canals open for everyone to enjoy and making sure there is always water in them is key to this

David Mould

My role varies throughout the year. During the main boating season we keep a close eye on the water levels. This is usually complicated by long term repair work like our reservoir engineering projects, which can limit water availability. Drought and flooding can complicate our job too!

In the winter months we help out with the winter works programme, support project managers and help with open days.  When we start planning our winter repair works we help by deciding the best way to keep water moving along the canal as we can’t just close an entire canal down to carry out work on one lock.

We move water past our winter works sites using flumes and pumps, always trying to keep our carbon footprint to an absolute minimum. Pumps use diesel and are expensive to run so wherever possible we look for an alternative way. We also help out project managers plan how early they need to start drawing water from our reservoirs so that they are empty enough to work on. 

Last date edited: 8 December 2020