River Witham

Start date: September 15, 2021
End date: October 1, 2021
Stoppages & Restrictions

Intersection of: Lock 4, Boston Lock to Lock 1, Stamp End Lock on River Witham and Lock 1, Torksey Lock to Lock 1, Torksey Lock on Fossdyke Canal

ADVICE (until 5pm Thursday 30 September 2021)

Update on 03/09/2021:

An update regarding the weed situation at Boston.

We have been working continuously to try and resolve the problem. Each of us working in the operations team share the frustrations of boaters, businesses and all affected by the weed.

As previously pointed out, we identified the weed is a mix of duckweed and an invasive species called azolla. We have released small bugs called weevils that eat the azolla in order to try and brake up the weed. Unfortunately, weevils do not eat duckweed. 

As some of you have seen, we have added an additional weed boat onto the river and are removing between 300 and 500 loads of weed from the navigation each week.

We continue to flush weed through our own lock at every opportunity.

The sluices and associated booms adjacent to the gate do not belong to Canal and River Trust. They are an Environment agency asset designed to be used for their primary function of flood relief. These sluices can only be operated by the EA as they also monitor water levels and must balance abstractions for use in agriculture.

The EA have been operating the sluices weekly to try to to flush the weed. We are working closely with the EA to seek options to increase the amount of weed flushing that can take place each week. 

Update on 25/08/2021:

We continue to work with the EA to operate the sluices at Boston to flush out as much weed as possible. The Environment agency are providing what resource they can to assist when they are on site. Our Lock keeper continues to flush out what he can through the lock.

We are aware of concerns from Anglers regarding conditions for fish in the river with regard to Oxygen levels and our ecology team was on site yesterday taking readings. The oxygen levels are of concern, though regular flushing at the lock does mean they recover quickly. Again we are working with our own fisheries team as well as the EA’s and ask that sightings of distressed fish are reported to us with photographs where possible.

We have confirmed that the majority of the weed is in fact duck weed though there is presence of Azolla – an invasive weed. We will be deploying weevils to see if this assists in breaking up the weed, though we know it is only effective on azolla and not duckweed.

We continue to do all we can to resolve this issue.

Update on 19/08/2021:

We continue to battle overwhelming levels of Duckweed on the River Witham. We appreciate the restrictions this has on our boating customers and are doing all we can to resolve the problem. This is a naturally occurring issue and we are effectively battling nature itself. This year the conditions appear to be such that duckweed is flourishing and continues to grow and spread rapidly. Our contractors are doing what they can to clear as much as possible, however this is an expensive and time consuming process. 

Our Lock keeper continues to flush as much weed out of Boston lock with the tide and The Environment agency continue to work with us to operate the sluices gates at Boston when resources and tides allow . This is clearing the weed, but brings with it the issue of pulling weed from up stream of the Witham. We share the frustration of boaters and businesses affected by this and assure all that we are not being complacent in tackling the problem.

Original message:

We continue to battle the dreaded Duckweed on the River. We appreciate the restrictions this has on our boating customers and are doing all we can to resolve the problem. 

The Environment Agency have agreed to operate their sluice gates at Boston to assist in flushing the weed from the river. There will be a slight delay whilst they arrange craft to move the boom (upon which the weed gathers) 

Our Lock keeper continues to flush as much weed out of Boston lock as possible when on site and tides allow.