Lately, lots of people have been contacting me asking why the water level is so low at Chasewater, and many – including the champion of the waterfowl, Swan Lady Irene Hodges – have been very concerned about the impact of low water levels on the wildlife there.
My first reaction to this is that I share the concern, but I would note that since it refilled, Chasewater has been unusually high, and we’ve got used to that situation. It should be remembered that the reservoir exists and still functions as a feeder for the West Midlands canal network, and the Canal and River Trust have every right to use it to top up the canal network as necessary.
I have been in conversation with Lichfield District and Staffordshire County Councillor Sue Woodward, who has kindly been helping to obtain a true picture of what’s going on so I can reassure readers and those worried about the park they love.
Following a statement from Noreen Davidson, Rural Access Manager at Staffordshire County Council, I can share the following information…
The level was initially lowered to allow a damaged drain in the dam to be repaired. This was carried out quickly and is now complete. The work took less than a week, but even so, the water had to be lowered to enable the work to take place.
The level is now lower because the Canal and Rivers Trust have recently drawn off some water in addition to that released to allow the work to take place. The water level has been higher than average this year because of the very high rainfall last winter. The 1.3 metres that had to be drawn down to carry out the works reduced the level to the average for this time of year.
However, since the Canal and Rivers Trust have also recently used the Chasewater to top up the level for the canal network (as is their right), the water level has dropped to it’s current level. The valves are now closed, and the Trust have indicated that they are not expecting to draw down any more and that Chasewater’s level should return to its normal level over the winter provided that we have sufficient rain.
Chasewater is very dear to me as it is to many, many readers, and I’ve been trying to get information for a while now, and I’d like to thank Councillor Woodward and Noreen Davidson for their help in this matter. Hopefully, this statement will put minds to rest and our favourite reservoir should fill up in the coming months (although not too quickly, eh? I don’t want to spend a third consecutive winter tipping water out of my hat.)
As Irene pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago, the young swans hatched this year are now on Chasewater with the main flock, and it’s important the ecology continues to recover so that they may have necessary food over the winter.