So much rain, but a dry canal

Lack of water in the canal at Chalford
Dry canal at Chalford

You can’t have missed it, even if you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks.

It’s been raining constantly. It’s not even been very warm with a cold northerly last week, yet the canal beyond Chalford has hardly any water in it.

When I was a youngster living near the canal up the Chalford valley, a night of heavy rain would leave the canal with a substantial amount of water in it the following morning.

On that basis I went for a walk the other evening along the canal path from Chalford to Bakers Mill to see if the canal was living up to its past. It wasn’t.

I was surprised, it was little more than a puddle in places (photo above near a dam) which considering the amount its rained recently seemed very odd. There is a dam on the canal near the Chalford playing fields so the water isn’t flowing away into the lock and beyond. In past winters and even summers the water level would be at or near the top of the dam, rain or not.

This section of canal was never the best as the clay lining wasn’t done very well and it leaked, and there are no lock gates left to keep the water back. But there were never any gates back when I lived there so that hasn’t changed.

The river near Bakers Mill was also little more than a trickle. The river at that point comes from the Bakers Mill lake that was originally built to keep the canal topped up.

The lake isn’t exactly full at the moment either as up until now we haven’t had that much rain this year, especially since the dry summer last year.

So why isn’t the rain filling the canal and lake?

My guess is that due to last years dry summer, and this year’s (up until now) dry winter, a lot of the springs from underground aquifers around here that feed into the river and canal have largely dried up. If they were full, any heavy rain would have just sent more water out of the springs into the river and canal and that’s not happening at the moment.

With enough rain the underground reserves should fill up again and the canal on that stretch might end up with more water in it!