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Peak Forest & Macclesfield Canal Water Resources - Public Meeting


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Peak Forest & Macclesfield Canal Water Resources

Hello,

As one of our boating customers located on the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals we'd love you to join us to discuss water resources for the busier boating months ahead on the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals.
 
We are keen to update you on the work we are doing to manage water levels in your area. Two meetings will be held in just over a week's time:
 
18th February 6pm - 8pm North Cheshire Cruising Club SK6 8AA
19th February 6pm - 8pm Macclesfield Golf Club SK11 7EA
 
Meetings start at 6pm - Tea and coffee will be available on arrival.
 
If you intend on coming along please let us know at enquiries.northwest@canalrivertrust.org.uk

Thanks! 
Liam Cooper
Boating & Customer Service Manager, North West

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We received this email too but aren't able to attend due to work.

 

Wondered if anyone else on the forum would be going and would be kind enough to report back?  We are currently envisaging another Summer tootling between Bugsworth and Macclesfield but would love to hear differently.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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I should have received an email but didn't and had a heck of a job tracking down information about these meetings. I plan to go to the Tuesday meeting and will report back if necessary -  though presumably any decisions by CRT will be made public.

Edited by Bugsworth Tippler
typo
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Having just attended the C&RT public meeting I can report that it was well attended with at least five C&RT employees, lots of pop-up advertising/information signs and the obligatory 'Death by Powerpoint' presentation. The added delight was a survey to which the audience members could contribute answers via their mobile phones. What fun! Or waste of time if the questions are inappropriate and a very low proportion of the audience had their phones with them.

So, what did I learn? Not much. The Toddbrook reservoir will be sorted in about three years but as yet the reports of the investigations are sitting on some Government desk. There will be water shortages this summer as the reservoir capacity has been reduced by 29%, and restrictions of some sort will be necessary depending on the weather! In the worst case scenario the locks could be shut for three days each week. C&RT indicated that a solid block of three days was their preferred option but the audience seemed to be in favour of alternating days. The best option was a daily time restriction. Whatever restrictions are needed C&RT would try to give two weeks notice before implementing them.

What did C&RT learn? Not much, except that the boaters on the Macc are fed up with stoppages and restrictions.

I believe copies of the C&RT presentations will be available on-line somewhere.

  • Greenie 1
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10 hours ago, Cheshire cat said:

What difference would closing the locks for three days a week make. I can't see it greatly affecting the total number of passages.

 

 

I believe the idea behind this is to concentrate boat passage so that it can be one up and one down, and probably also to deter some boats from the area altogether. Whether this works in reality depends on have someone to organise passage (and seems harder to achieve in a long flight like Marple or Bosley where boats won't be starting out from the middle).

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12 hours ago, Bugsworth Tippler said:

Having just attended the C&RT public meeting I can report that it was well attended with at least five C&RT employees, lots of pop-up advertising/information signs and the obligatory 'Death by Powerpoint' presentation. The added delight was a survey to which the audience members could contribute answers via their mobile phones. What fun! Or waste of time if the questions are inappropriate and a very low proportion of the audience had their phones with them.

So, what did I learn? Not much. The Toddbrook reservoir will be sorted in about three years but as yet the reports of the investigations are sitting on some Government desk. There will be water shortages this summer as the reservoir capacity has been reduced by 29%, and restrictions of some sort will be necessary depending on the weather! In the worst case scenario the locks could be shut for three days each week. C&RT indicated that a solid block of three days was their preferred option but the audience seemed to be in favour of alternating days. The best option was a daily time restriction. Whatever restrictions are needed C&RT would try to give two weeks notice before implementing them.

What did C&RT learn? Not much, except that the boaters on the Macc are fed up with stoppages and restrictions.

I believe copies of the C&RT presentations will be available on-line somewhere.

I was there as well.

 

There was some reaction against the Slido polls. It is a tool that I use in a work environment, and I am comfortable with it, but I did think it was a leap of technology too far for this kind of session, and I got a sense that some people were concerned that they were being presented with a list of unacceptable options to choose from, and that there was a danger that this could then be trumpeted as "what the boaters asked for"

 

They were very keen on stage 2 of restrictions (if required) being a 3 day block closure, rather than alternate days, and the driver there seemed to be cost. They also mentioned an even more severe 4 day closure as a further escalation (again in a block). These closures weren't well received by the hire boat operators, because it could kill their business.

 

Back pumping was rather dismissed as not the solution, because losses are more than just lockage, but it didn't ring particularly true, and it seemed that there was (again) a cost issue here, and that this could be a part of a solution of several parts.

 

The scale of the problem is that it looks like almost 50% of the reservoir capacity is NOT used for lockage, but leaks or evaporates, so losing 29% of your reservoir capacity means that you have lost about half of the water that you had available for lockage.

 

My suggestion that as we have had 3 years of emergency stoppages preventing us from going places that it might be nice if resources were shepherded to allow locals preferential access (because we have very few cruising choices, whilst boaters from elsewhere have many more options that visiting the Macc at present) garnered a few murmurs of support in the room, and wasn't dismissed out of hand by CRT. In particular, they seemed amenable to a "golden ticket" solution such that if the locks are closed, they could provide a single passage back to home moorings. The idea of preferential passage wasn't welcomed by the volunteer lock keeper in the room, who wasn't keen on implementing it.

 

It was interesting that there was a realism in the room. The attendees were very accepting of the premise that restrictions from the start of the "season", rather than when water levels get low would be best, and whilst CRT were suggesting a 7 hour daily window, there were suggestions from the floor for a shorter window each day from the start, as a way to ensure that they don't run out.

 

The 2 week notice seemed a reasonable attempt to be customer friendly, and the message was that all 3 operational reservoirs are currently full, with restrictions coming as soon as they drop from weir level (with 2 weeks notice). Personally, I would advise people that restrictions start on 1st April. If at 1st April, the reservoirs are still spilling, just hold off on implementing.

 

The presentation from the PM for the repairs was useful, although I would have hoped to see more planning as to how the Toddbrook inflow could be fed into the canal as part of the solution.

 

The update from the Operations Manager was (in my view) horribly misjudged. A room full of people who are paying a lot of money and finding that year after year they can't go boating is definitely not an audience that wants to hear that you've put new interpretation boards in Whaley Bridge. There was a question to her about treating the giant hogweed, which resulted in the response "where is it". Sorry, but if you are Operations Manager for the Peak Forest and Macc Canals, and have to ask that, the next question would appear to be "Do you ever leave your office, and look at the canal"

 

The national water resources manager clearly knew his stuff, and whilst there was an element of "I understand your frustrations" that wasn't entirely sincere, he seemed to have a handle, and had some ideas that could help maximise resources. There has been some work done to maximise reservoir inflow, and that is a positive.

 

For all my cynicism, it was worth going, and I do thank CRT for engaging

  • Greenie 2
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Thanks mayalld for a more useful account of the proceedings than wot I did. The Operations Manager's photo of a bench with and without gravel round it and ignorance of the giant hogweed  at New Mills (with its giant sign) struck me as well. I also got the impression that local knowledge was short in supply (like the water) and that too much time was being spent pouring over spreadsheets or designing glossy posters and presentations. We all know money is short so it is imperative that it is used to maintain the canal infrastructure. An adequate water supply is, after all, essential for the fish whose welfare seemed to be high on the list of CRT's concerns.

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Thanks for reporting back...very informative. I can sympathise with the lock keepers who would have to enforce a golden ticket passage of the locks past a queue of angry holiday boaters? but seems fair to me, as a visiting boater we do have other routes available as you say.

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