Hampshire County Council have issued the following guidance for users of the Basingstoke Canal during this unprecedented hot weather.
Lower water levels on sections of the Basingstoke Canal has prompted advice to visitors to take extra care so that everyone can continue to enjoy the Canal safely, while helping to safeguard the wildlife during these drought conditions.The guidance over this time is:
Please keep to the towpath and off the beaches forming at the side of the canal – avoid the margins, which can be deceptively muddy in some areas, and this also helps to protect wildlife;
Please keep dogs under close control or on a lead – wildfowl have a smaller area to take shelter if startled, and your dog could become trapped in the mud;
Keep yourself and dogs out of the water;
Stirring up mud reduces oxygen levels for fish and other wildlife;
There may be hidden objects much closer to the surface than normal;
Water can appear much deeper than it is posing a risk of injury;
Warm conditions promote the growth of algae – this could be dangerous to your dog.
Councillor Marisa Heath, Chair of the Joint Management Committee that oversees the running of the Canal, said: “After one of the driest periods for over a century, parts of Basingstoke Canal are now experiencing significant water shortages, especially the sections between Aldershot and Brookwood.
We want to ensure that visitors to the canal are aware of the impacts of this drought, and take extra care where necessary. This will allow everyone to continue to enjoy the benefits of this outdoor attraction safely, whilst helping us to safeguard the wide variety of wildlife that rely on the canal.”
Over this dry period, the canal’s team is working with the Angling Association and Environment Agency to monitor fish welfare.
In other measures, navigation by boats using the waterway between Aldershot and Brookwood have now been suspended. Canoeing and paddlesports are continuing but may need to be restricted if levels continue to fall.