Making the Navigation a Priority
Origins of the Nav-Watch Group?
In recent years a deterioration of the navigation of the Grand, Royal and River Barrow has occurred. Many of us encounter issues, endure the conditions and forget about it once we reach the end of our canal journey. With the development of the Greenways on the towpaths of the canal networks, it is feared the focus of the maintenance of the canals could switch to an aesthetic perspective as Waterways Ireland’s priority shifts away from maintenance of the navigation.
However, Waterways Ireland do as much as they can with limited resources at present. But gone are the days of the canal engineers travelling by barge and noting critical snags on the navigation themselves. Without this first-hand knowledge Waterways Ireland rely on us to notify them of any issues encountered along the canals network.
In October 2018 a think-tank meeting was held in Clondra Co. Longford convened by the Royal Canal IWAI branch. The meeting was attended by good representation of the voluntary stakeholders throughout the length of the Royal Canal and members from other IWAI branches. The sustained water shortages and long-term closure of the Royal Canal was the main topic of conversation. However, it highlighted the public concern for the future of the Royal Canal navigation and the deterioration of the Canals and Barrow navigations in general.
Shortly afterwards, a small interested group of IWAI branch members held a follow up meeting, the objective was to discuss the foundation of a project group which could take a specific interest in the navigational issues apparent and developing on the Royal and Grand Canals and River Barrow. Out of this meeting Nav-Watch was born.
The group’s first objective was to undertake a project to encourage people to log and record issues encountered along the navigation. An online survey tool was developed which would allow members and the wider public to log and record issues encountered. The collected data would allow the group to measurably trace and track each issue encountered.
The survey is available from the IWAI website www.IWAI.ie/Nav-Watch and is being distributed throughout the branches and through social media www.facebook.com/Nav-Watch.
How will this data be used?
Monthly, a report will be updated onto the Nav-Watch website and also distributed to IWAI branches and executive. We will also work with Waterways Ireland and inform them of issues, focusing on any critical or recurring issues. It is hoped, with this information we can positively influence maintenance programmes and projects on the navigations toward addressing critical issues.
We will never share personal details outside of the project group, reporting of issues to IWAI, Waterways Ireland or wider stakeholders will only include details of the issue. The data from the survey is collected onto a spread sheet, each logged issue is recorded with a date and time – this gives us the power to record and track issues over a longer period of time and establish the stability of the canals – are they getting worse or remaining the same?
We Need Your Help!
We need everybody to log any issues encountered on your journeys and keep logging further issues as they are encountered. The information you provide gives us the ability to work with Waterways Ireland to improve the conditions of the canals.
If you encounter anything out of the ordinary, we encourage you to please log it in the survey, for example:
• Broken footboards
• Loose stonework
• Low water levels
• Weed (both native and invasive)
• Defective locks/racks/gates
We need details of your experiences to build the reports, without any data we cannot recommend any changes for improvements to the conditions. Your canals won’t improve without your help!
If you have any suggestions or want to get involved with Nav-Watch please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org