Forth & Clyde Canal Low Water Levels

In partnership with Transport Scotland and Amey, Scottish Canals can confirm that the Monkland pipeline continues to supply water into the Forth & Clyde Canal with sufficient flows to recover the water level on the canal.

Update 18th June – 8.30am

As water levels are increasing, we expect to resume navigation between Lock 16 and Glasgow, Bowling and Edinburgh on Saturday. We need to carry out some final checks on the eastern lock gates between Lock 16 and The Kelpies, which will be carried out by Monday, with the expectation that we can resume navigation in the east after that.

With water levels starting to return to normal, Scottish Canals has begun removing the safety fencing that had been installed around Glasgow to keep members of the public away from the canal and out of lock chambers. We will begin removing fencing in the Falkirk area when safe to do so.

Scottish Canals continues to keep the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) informed and we are updating hire boat customers, our boating customers, other users, partners and elected members regularly. Updates are also being posted on our website and social media channels as appropriate.

We would like to thank everyone for their patience during this challenging time, particularly our customers, partners and visitors and look forward to welcoming them back to a vibrant water space very soon.

 

Update 15th June – 1.30pm

Scottish Canals, in partnership Transport Scotland and Amey, can confirm that the Monkland pipeline continues to supply water into the Forth & Clyde Canal with 125 litres per second now coming into the network. Water levels are rising across the canal, with higher stretches filling up first and water working its way through the lower levels of the system. We expect it to take a few more days for the Forth & Clyde Canal to reach its normal level but at this rate, we should be on track for sea to sea navigation to resume at the weekend. We will continue to monitor water levels and update hire boat customers, our website and social media channels.

Update 14th June – 7.30pm

We are happy to announce that the main water supply to the Forth & Clyde is now operational again. Over the weekend we continued to work closely with Amey and Transport Scotland, who operate the pipeline below the M8 motorway, to reinstate the water supply that failed 10 days ago and significantly reduced canal water levels in at a number of locations in Glasgow and Falkirk. We are now seeing 100 litres per second enter the canal and at this rate, we expect to see normal water levels resume by the end of this week.

Over the weekend, Scottish Canals conducted a controlled and limited water abstraction from the River Kelvin over a 27-hour period and this is now complete. During this time we worked closely with SEPA to protect the fish stock on both the River Kelvin and the Forth & Clyde Canal. The limited and controlled abstraction of water and a period of rain overnight on Sunday 13th going into Monday 14th June, has meant that water levels on the River Kelvin have now risen above levels recorded before the abstraction commenced.

Despite being limited, the water abstraction helped to protect the ecology of the Forth & Clyde Canal whilst a professional fish rescue operation was undertaken along affected areas.

For safety reasons, Scottish Canals’ staff will continue to monitor water levels on the Forth & Clyde Canal over the next few days before deciding to resume navigation. However, we are hopeful that boat movements will be able to start again over the weekend 19/20th June.

In the meantime, we will continue to keep boaters and other customers, partners, elected members and the wider public informed as well as updating our social media channels.

 

Update 12th June – 7.20pm

Transport Scotland and their contractors, Amey, continue to investigate the blockage in the Monkland pipeline, which is affecting water levels on the Forth & Clyde Canal. These investigations are expected to be complete by late Monday 14th June 2021.

As a result of continuing issues with Transport Scotland’s operated water supply pipeline to the Forth & Clyde Canal a temporary emergency pump system has been deployed on the River Kelvin with controlled and limited water being provided to the Kelvin Aqueduct.

At this difficult time this additional feed from the River Kelvin is required to stabilise the Forth & Clyde Canal in respect to the heritage structures and to preserve the canals ecology.

Scottish Canals are working closely with our partners at SEPA to ensure the protection of fish stock on both the River Kelvin and the Forth & Clyde Canal. The abstraction of water will help protect the ecology of the Forth & Clyde Canal whilst a professional fish rescue operation is also being undertaken along the affected areas.

Scottish Canals supported by fish ecology experts will be carrying out daily environmental monitoring at the abstraction point and at several locations downstream to monitor any potential environmental impact on the River Kelvin. The abstraction of water will be limited and subject to strict environmental conditions defined by SEPA. Should environmental monitoring indicate any issues in relation to water quality on the River Kelvin we will cease the abstraction immediately.

Transport Scotland and Amey continue to investigate the blockage in the Monkland pipelines, we continue to liaise with them closely to constantly review our response plan which is being implemented to preserve the environment and heritage of the Forth and Clyde Canal.

 

Update 11th June – 3:45pm

Due to low water levels on the eastern side of the Forth & Clyde Canal, specialists have carried out a comprehensive fish rescue in Falkirk that involves safely transferring all those fish that are captured to unaffected waters elsewhere. While we continue to manage water levels in the west, there is an urgent need to top the canal up with fresh water in order to safeguard the fish located in this stretch of the canal. Therefore, we will begin pumping water from the River Kelvin into the Kelvin Aqueduct near Maryhill in Glasgow on Saturday 12th June 2021. We continue to work in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to manage the situation and monitor the potential environmental impact on both the canal and the River Kelvin.

We have also installed 1.5km of fencing at locations in Glasgow and Falkirk where levels have dropped as a safety measure to prevent members of the public falling into drained down lock chambers, canal channels or getting stuck in the exposed silt. Safety posters advising people to stay away from the edge have also been put up.

We will continue to update our boating customers and organisations (RYA Scotland, Scottish Waterways for All, British Marine, SailScotland etc), elected members, partners, staff and other organisations.

Next update will be Monday 14th June 2021.

 

Update 10th June – 08:30am

Following Tuesday’s news of reduced water levels on the Forth & Clyde Canal, Amey and Transport Scotland continued investigating the blockage in the Monkland pipeline and although their understanding of the issue improved, a resolution has not yet been found and they began intrusive investigations, to get a clearer picture of the cause.

We had helpful conversations with SEPA over the option of pumping water into the canal from the River Kelvin in the west and in the event that this incident is not resolved quickly, the further option of pumping water into the channel from the River Clyde and River Carron. In the meantime, navigation remains suspended and our Customer Operations team continues to keep transit boat customers and holiday hire boat companies fully informed.

As a safety measure, we have begun installing 1.5km of fencing at multiple locations in Glasgow and Falkirk to discourage members of the public from entering drained down areas of the canal channel, lock chambers and silted areas. We have also put posters up advising people to stay away from the edge and keep out of the channel. However, we are hearing reports of individuals ignoring this advice and therefore we are contacting the police in both locations and asking them to increase their vigilance in these locations.

On Wednesday we also commissioned specialist companies to carry out fish rescues that will safely transfer fish to unaffected waters at various locations. Works will start at 9am Thursday 10th June 2021 and be conducted according to priority need.

Update 8th June – 16:30pm

Over the last couple of days, on behalf of Transport Scotland, Amey investigated the third party issue with the Monkland pipeline which supplies up to 70% of the water needed to operate the Forth & Clyde Canal. Their investigation indicates a blockage in the underground pipeline near Townhead in Glasgow. As the remaining 30% of water supplies from reservoirs in the Kilsyth area are insufficient, there has been a drop in normal water levels at various locations in Glasgow and Falkirk. We are installing fencing at key locations and putting up posters advising the public to stay away from the canal channel, lock gates and chambers and to keep out of the silt as these all pose safety risks.

To maintain operations, the Forth & Clyde Canal normally requires 300 litres per second of water to flow into it from multiple sources and this comes mainly from the Monkland pipeline. Whilst we are currently using other water sources, we are only seeing 150 litres per second flow into the canal, which is half of what it should be.

Scottish Canals operations staff are working hard to manage the water we do have in the canal, letting additional water into the system from Townhead Reservoir near Kilsyth, whilst continuing to work with contractors to understand how to resolve the blockage. Navigation remains suspended with no transiting boats able to enter or leave the Lowland canals at present.

Our focus is on ensuring the safety of canal users, the public and our staff and the wildlife in and along the water. Locations where we have residential boaters remain unaffected at present but we have contacted all of our boating customers, and other marine organisations to advise them that boat movements are currently not possible.

We are liaising with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to ensure we take the necessary steps to protect nesting birds and fish in the canal and surrounding area, and we are currently working with specialist contractors to carry out a fish rescue at two locations, Falkirk and Glasgow. This is expected to be undertaken over the next few days and fish that are removed will be safely transferred to unaffected water in the summit pound of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Update 6th June – 11:20am

Due to a third party issue with the Monkland pipeline which feeds the Forth & Clyde Canal water supply, the water supply on the canal is currently low. All navigation along the waterway is currently suspended.

Contractors are attending the site today (Sunday 6th June) to inspect the issue. Please be advised that all towpath users should remain vigilant while moving past areas areas of the canal with low water levels and should not enter the canal bed.

We thank you for your patience as this issue is resolved. Updates will be shared here and on our social channels.

 

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