Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Boris bangs on!

I think Mayor of London Boris Johnson reads my blog. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Boris certainly would not be in my target audience.  A few days ago, I wrote about an idea for adding the canals into the National Water Grid.  Here

Writing in today's Telegraph Boris bangs on about a National Water Grid using the canal network. Boris is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but sometimes he has an off day and comes up with a goer.

Boris said "Since Scotland and Wales are on the whole higher up than England, it is surely time to do the obvious: use the principle of gravity to bring surplus rain from the mountains to irrigate and refresh the breadbasket of the country in the South and East."

Nothing new in this idea, there have been several suggestions in the past. However, what's different now is the realisation that if all the leaks are plugged there are still going to be water shortages. There are three answers to this problem. Conservation by the user, done by installing a meter and upping the charge per litre. By creating more reservoirs to act as storage buffers. Installing a UK wide water grid. the water grid if it includes canals combines the best of reservoir and grid ideas.

Boris said It is amazing how much hostility this idea provokes from the very water companies who are currently warning of shortages. If you go to the website of their front organisations, you will find the notion of a water grid denounced as "absurd" and "inefficient".

The real opposition comes from the water companies having to foot the bill for installing the water grid infrastructure. The first two options are zero cost to the water companies.

Boris said "But if you talk to the excellent Professor Roger Falconer, of Cardiff University, he will tell you that they are blinkered and wrong. He has been looking at all sorts of proposals for improving our current network of canals so as to integrate them into the water supply...... I believe we might go even further, and retrieve J F Pownall's magnificent 1942 plan for a Grand Contour Canal, which would follow the 310 ft contour of the hills all the way from the Scottish borders to the South East."

Pownall's rather futuristic plan was a wartime effort to sort out problems with the water supply due to damage to the infrastructure and the massive loss of water through leakage.  Also to allow larger vessels to move cargo inland. It was an ambitious waterway proposal ever, called the "Grand Contour Canal." It was intended to be a lock-free ship canal following the 310ft contour the north and south of England. The surface width of the canal was to be 100ft (30.8 m) and its depth 17ft (5.2 m). In addition to shipping, it was proposed to use it for water transfer. Sadly the proposal came to nothing. It still has a great deal going for it. Including updating much of the canal infrastructure to supplement the water grid and improving the lot of everyone.

A good timeline of canal information. The "Lost Lines and Neglected Navigations" © Graham Fisher MBE was presented as six instalments 2007. Read an extract Here.
Biting my tongue and fighting the desire to spit. Through gritted teeth, I have to mumble, that I think Boris is onto a winner here. The telegraph article is worth a read, you can find it here.


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