River Witham users update – December 2018

Boating Safety

The Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust take the issue of boater safety very seriously. It is
recognised that during winter months there can be additional safety considerations. Both organisations
would like to remind the boating community that boaters have ownership of their mooring safety
throughout the year. There can be extremes of weather, especially during the winter months and in order to
manage flood risk successfully, water levels on the River Witham can vary significantly, particularly in the
Boston area when discharging large volumes of water. Any boat moored at Boston will need to be able to
cope safely with extremes in water level and flow.
The Canal and River Trust support the Environment Agency’s efforts to manage water levels within the
parameters of the all year round boat mooring agreement. Agreed in 2010 as a 10 year pilot, the agreement
allows for all year round boating on the lower River Witham in Boston.

Weed Control

The Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust take very seriously the issue of weed in the River
Witham. Both organisations appreciate that this year has seen particularly large build ups of weed and
understand that this affects a range of waterway users. Both organisations are committed to addressing the
issue as effectively as they can, given their specific remits and the resources available. This year, both
organisations have put additional effort into seeking solutions to the problem and ensuring efforts are as
coordinated as possible going forward.
In particular, we appreciate that weed can build up in large volumes at Grand Sluice. The Environment
Agency is responsible for managing flood risk, therefore it can be difficult to justify removing weed when it is
not deemed to be a flood risk. The Environment Agency is not funded or resourced to carry out routine weed
flushes, but is happy to flush out weed from Grand Sluice when it is safe to do so and there are staff in the
area. Whilst the Environment Agency does have a responsibility to provide a minimum depth of water on the
Witham, they have no other formal responsibilities for navigation.
The Canal and River Trust is the navigation authority for the Witham with a remit of maintaining a channel of
navigation within the river. Every year the Trust spend a significant amount on removing weed from the
Witham to maintain the navigation. We appreciate that some waterway users would like additional
resources spent on this but the Trust has to balance this work with a wide range of competing priorities. The
Trust does however keep the resource expenditure and effectiveness of its operation under review.

Invasive non‐native species – Floating Pennywort

Floating Pennywort has been discovered on the Witham system for the first time, this invasive non‐native
species can cause issues by blocking out light, causing deoxygenation and blocking air breathing insects. In
addition the plant can form large mats which can become very dense. The species spreads from plant
fragments so it’s important not to try not to break up any patches as this can aid and speed up its spread.
Please help stop the spread of invasive non‐native species by following the Check‐Clean‐Dry steps.
If you see any Floating Pennywort on the River Witham please report it by calling the Environment Agency’s
Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60.

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