Having successfully managed pumping operations through the wettest winter on record, our focus is now on our embankment and in-channel maintenance programme. The wet and relatively warm winter has meant we’ve had to adjust our plans.

In terms of in-channel management of aquatic weed, which is particularly important to those boating on our 160km of navigable waterways, this is what to expect in 2024:

Our weed-boats are now in the water and ready for the season. We have five boats – two as weed cutters and three as weed lifters. Ideally, we form two crews, a crew of three boats generally focussed on the wider waterways and a crew of two boats focussed on the link route.

Our ability to have two crews active during a working week is dependent upon:

· Weather conditions

· Mechanical issues with the boats

· Boat crew availability and absence

To maximise what we can achieve, we are:

· Actively re-deploying members of our workforce to be part of our boat crews by using contractors for some other activities.

· Aiming to bring in, train and use additional boat operators this summer.

· Looking to maximise boat ‘cutting time’ rather than ‘travel time’. This will mean less responding to ‘hotspot’ weed-growth reports from boaters which has previously resulted in lost ‘cutting time’ and greater ‘travel time’.

· Improving our logistical and fuelling support to our boat crews.

We will endeavour to regularly post updates on our Facebook page as to where our crew(s) are within our system.

We’d love to be able to afford more boats and more operatives to manage weed growth to the standards many of those navigating our system would like. Sadly, that’s not our financial reality within boundaries of the income we receive from licence fees and from our ratepayers. Many boaters remember the days when weed growth within our system was significantly worse than it is today.

Please bear with us, as at a maximum we can only be in one or two places at a time within our 160km of navigable waterways.

As these crews will blend experienced hands with novice hands, we aim to get a crew out cutting on the wider waterways starting wc 20th May where there is less traffic. This is so they can test and perfect their teamwork before working within the narrower, busier channels.

If you see our crews in action, please wave and say hello.