Wessex Water has teamed up with Bath and North East Somerset Council, the Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency (EA) for a jointly funded Water Space Study that will identify projects to transform and revitalise the waterways around Bath.
Historically, rivers and canals were heavily used for industry, business and trade, but are now used increasingly for leisure and wellbeing, sports and recreation. The study will gather new evidence about how the waterways are now being used, and look at the diverse range of opportunities along the River Avon between Bath and Keynsham and along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Deep Lock and Limpley Stoke Viaduct.
The Water Space Study will also be informed by the continuing work of the council and the EA to investigate options for managing flood risk.
The project is due to conclude its recommendations in March 2017.
Councillor Martin Veal, cabinet member for community services and chair of the strategic river group, said: “All of the project partners are keen to engage with everyone who has an interest in the river and canal within our communities, including businesses, the construction industry, landowners, sports clubs, boaters and local groups.
“This study initiates what we hope will be an exciting enhancement and transformation of how Bath uses its water spaces.”
The study will look at all aspects impacting on the river and canal, including boat moorings, river navigation by boats, leisure and recreation opportunities and wider wildlife and habitat enhancements.
The project partners will be working with local consultancy firm Atkins, which has been involved in many environmental-based river restoration work and marina developments, including the rejuvenation of the London 2012 Olympic Park canal network.
Mark Evans, waterways manager for the Kennet and Avon Canal at the Canal and River Trust, said: “This study will really help us to understand what people want and need from Bath’s waterways, from the needs of boating communities to the tourist trade.
“The canal and river are already key features of the city, but there is potentially much more we can do to make the most of them.
“This is the first step in working out what those things could be, and it’s great to have partners on board who are as invested in Bath’s future as we are.”
Jeremy Taylor, catchment co-ordinator at the EA, said: “This is a real team effort. As well as making full use of the water spaces in Bath, the Water Space Study will assist in the development of a sustainable approach to flood risk management within Bath. We are all pooling our knowledge and resources to identify both large and small projects that will benefit the community, local economy and the environment.”
This article first appeared in Utility Week’s sister title WWTonline