Stretches of the popular Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which runs through Burnley and Pendle, are to be closed due to the country's recent heatwave - although the Burnley Canal Festival will still go ahead.
Local boaters had already seen restricted opening hours introduced on the canal in June, but the continued lack of significant rainfall in the region has now prompted this more drastic action by the Canal and Rivers Trust, the body responsible for the canal network.
From July 30th, the Canal and River Trust will close locks along a 55 mile section of the canal between Wigan Flight (from below lock 85) and Gargrave (from below lock 30).
The closure, expected to last throughout next month, is not however expected to impact the Burnley Canal Festival, which is due to take place on the weekend of August 25th and 26th.
Local tourism facilities, including Reedley Marina, could also be adversely affected by the closure.
A spokesman for the Trust said: "It’s not clear how long the closure will last for but it’s likely to be throughout August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall.
"While the closure will prevent use of that stretch of canal by boats the towpath will remain open for visitors and the local community alike to enjoy."
In June the Trust announced restricted opening hours on part of the canal to make the available water last as long as possible.
Use of locks at Barrowford, Greenberfield, Bank Newton and Gargrave was restricted to 10am to 6pm. However, with the continued drawdown of the reservoirs, the prolonged low rainfall and with the forecast for further dry weather, the Trust is restricting opening hours further to between 10am and 4pm.
Local rain gauges show that some parts of the region received as little as 30% of the Long-Term Average rainfall in May and June – with no rainfall received at all in the first week of July - placing extra pressure on reservoir holdings over the past few months.
Jon Horsfall, head of Customer Service Support at the Canal and River Trust, said; “Despite the prolonged dry weather and current heatwave the vast majority of our 2,000 mile network is available for boaters and holiday makers to enjoy as normal but some very localised parts of our network in the North West are starting to feel the heat.
“In particular the reservoirs which feed the summit of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal have seen very little rainfall over the past few months and so we’ve been monitoring the situation closely and working with boaters and boating businesses to make best use of the available water.
"We’ve taken the decision to temporarily close part of the canal to boats very reluctantly and can assure everyone on that stretch of the canal that we’ll reopen for navigation as soon as we possibly can."
Boaters can help conserve water by:
Sharing locks where possible and making the best use of the water available.
Ensuring paddles are fully closed once they’ve passed through a lock.
Aiming for minimal contact when navigating through locks by ensuring gates are fully open as they pass through. Pushing gates open using a boat can damage the seal between the gates, increasing its leakage.