The mysterious falling canal level: Water carry on!

Top Canal and River Trust operatives look for a leak. Image Kindly supplied by Andy Bennets.

Several people have brought to my attention in recent days the falling level of the local canal in Brownhills and surrounds, which has naturally been causing concern, particularly following the recent wet weather which saw the canal overflowing heavily on Sunday, 27th May 2018.

By yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 2nd June 2018), I measured the level as 144mm lower than the overflow height at Clayhanger: Nearly six inches of water lost in five days from about 25 miles of canal at the same level with no locks is a huge amount of water to disappear without obvious trace.

9pm last Sunday evening (27th May 2018). This canal was not short of water then…

Initial enquiries with the pretty useless PR people at the Canal and River Trust blamed Staffordshire County Council for turning off the supply of water from Chasewater, which was clearly arrant toss as it had been running since April.

Online discussions had centred around someone perhaps leaving a lock sluice open, as so much water leaking would surely be evident somewhere. As incidents at Middlewich and Llangollen show, canals leaking so much tend to be catastrophic and very evident!

In the early 1980s, a breach at Sandhills near Anchor Bridge, Brownhills caused much damage, too.

Oh dear. Clcik image to see original stoppage notice. Chasewater my eye.

It turns out that from an emergency stoppage notice posted yesterday (Saturday 2nd June 2018) water has been leaking from the canal into a stream culvert at Little Bloxwich, and thankfully hasn’t burst through. Work is currently underway to isolate the section and repair it, damming the canal to prevent water loss in the interim.

On Thursday evening, at Clayhanger the drop was 123mm from the Clayhanger overflow level.

Hopefully this should see levels stabilise in a short time.

This incident has further convinced me that the Canal and River Trust couldn’t find their arses with both hands, an arse map, a mirror, a team of very expensive arse finding consultants and an example arse flown in from America.

There’s a great, and growing write up of this in much more detail than I can mange at the brilliant canal blog of Andy Matthews – do visit it and have a read.

Clcik image to visit Andy’s blog and read his take of the amazing sinking canal.

Thanks to everyone who brought this to my attention and debated it: great stuff.

If you have a view on this, or pictiures, please do get in touch. Comment or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.


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8 Responses to The mysterious falling canal level: Water carry on!

  1. Ben says:

    Subject: Navigation closure notice: Wyrley & Essington Canal, Navigation: Closed, Towpath: Open

    Notice Alert

    Wyrley & Essington Canal
    Starts At: Teeces Bridge
    Ends At: Teeces Bridge
    Up Stream Winding Hole: North of Teeces Bridge use the junction with the Cannock Extension Canal
    Down Stream Winding Hole: South of Teeces Bridge use Birchills Junction

    Saturday 2 June 2018 13:00 until further notice

    Type: Navigation Closure
    Reason: Structure failure

    Original message:

    A culvert that runs below the canal has collapsed and the level of the canal is continuing to drop so we need to isolate the section with the leak to protect the remainder of the canal.

    Please note the Northern and Southern Sections of the canal are all open and can be accessed via the Tame Valley and Rushall Canals or either the Walsall canal or Wolverhampton Main line.

    You can view this notice and its map online here:

    You can find all notices at the url below:

  2. Tim J Kitchen says:

    This could account for the fact that the stream running through Grenfell Road allotments is overflowing and flooding the fields off Wolverhampton Road.

  3. Tim Kitchen says:

    This is probably the reason why the stream running through Grenfell Road Allotments is still over flowing its banks and the fields along the Wolverhampton Road next to it are also flooded.

  4. Liz spooner says:

    The canal is now down after refilling 235mm at Becks bridge in Brownhills !! Called CRT emergency no says someone will be back to us immediately and still waiting 2 days later !!
    Our boat is completely grounded so can’t go anywhere and paying a fortune to CRT !!!

  5. Warren Parry says:

    i am surprised that a drop of 200mm is grounding barge’s. Always imagined a bit more clearance under the vessels. Seems like the future of our waterways are not in the safest of hands.

    • BrownhillsBob says:

      In a 1200mm depth kept clear by passing boats, 17% of the depth is a huge amount to lose. At the sides particularly, the grounding risk is real.


  6. Pingback: The fall and rise: Fixing a hole in the cut begins | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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