The work will focus on areas along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal where boaters are having difficulty mooring alongside the canal, navigating through bridges or getting stuck on the approach to locks. In total around 17,500 tonnes of silt – which is the same in weight as over 13,000 fully grown hippos – will be removed from the canal.
Using a floating dredger, silt and debris which has built up along the bottom of the canal over a number of years, will be scrapped off the bottom of the waterway. Once collected the silt will either be reused for bank stabilisation or sent to landfill.
Helping water voles
Paul Fox, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “This is a massive project and we are expecting work to be finished towards the end of the summer. We've known for a while that that some boaters have had some problems due to the build-up of silt so I'm glad we can now make some improvements to the navigation.
“We plan to recycle as much of the silt as possible - in Wolverhampton for example we plan to use the silt to help create new habitats for water voles. The soft mud texture of the silt is the perfect material for water voles to burrow into, to create homes and hopefully, once we've done this work, we'll see the numbers of these elusive animals start to increase.”