The breach

Published: Friday, 13 November 2009

IT HAS been estimated that 21 million gallons of water escaped from the canal as a result of the breach on Thursday, flowing across agricultural land and into the Churnet.

Though the waterway was drained, British Waterways have installed stop planks to create a dam at Leek Tunnel, and water levels are returning to normal between Stockton Brook Lock 9 and Leek Tunnel, with a separate supply.

However, boat navigation has been temporarily suspended between Bedford Street Lock 1 and Stockton Brook Lock 9 to allow water levels to recover more quickly.

British Waterways engineers will be on-site over the next few days to fully understand causes and to start formulating a programme of repair.

The breach site was last formally inspected on 6th November, which identified no obvious problems to its stability.

Moored boats were left high and dry when the water drained away, with Ivor Lucas, believing his narrowboat was the worst effected, relating:

"Apparently, it has tipped up and the stern is in the air. Our boat has been the most seriously affected. If the water is allowed back in gently, it should be all right. I hope it is not too badly damaged. We love that boat."

British Waterway's current priority is to reinstate water levels, conduct a fish rescue operation and ensure the canal and surrounding area is safe. It is unknown when the navigation will be re-open, however an updated statement will be issued next week.

Locals who use the towpath, and now have a diversion to undertake are under the impression that the breach will be repaired in four months.