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Drought and low water levels

During the summer months, many watercourses experience low water levels.

This is worsened in times of drought. We recommend that you consider the following actions in order to minimise the risk to both yourself and the natural environment during these periods:

  • Do not paddle on waterways which are too shallow and where you may come into contact with the river or lake bed. This may have the potential impact of some disturbance to wildlife and their habitats.
  • During dry periods, check out your planned route before getting on the water, especially at known points where shallow water can occur.
  • If you encounter shallower areas, read the water and seek out a deeper channel where possible for your route.
  • To save water limit the number of times a lock has to open. You should share the lock with other craft or simply portage around the lock.
  • Low flows means there is less water to dilute effluent/ run off from surrounding land and sewage treatment works. Be aware lower levels of water quality can present a potential health hazard.
  • Be aware of toxic blue green algae which may be more common on our waterways at times of low water flow/quantity.
  • Use water sparingly when washing down your equipment when following Stop the Spread (bio-security) guidance. It is permissible to use a hosepipe for bio-security and health & safety measures in provisions under the Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order 2010.
  • Report incidents, pollution and damage to the environment such as fish deaths to the relevant authorities.

River Level Advice

Data is collected from monitoring stations along rivers for the current, normal and highest levels in catchments and along the coast. You can find information for river and sea levels in England and Wales at the Environment Agency.

Websites such as Rainchasers gives an indication of when water levels will be suitable for paddling on many rivers. Please note however that while such sites can provide a helpful guide, inspection of the waterway, especially during low flows, is important before paddling.