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Gloucester Docks dredging: Canal trust tight-lipped over it income to supply Bristol with water

Posted on May 10, 2023

Canal and River Trust will not reveal how much it is being paid to supply Bristol with drinking water. The trust say they believe the high levels of silt which is preventing boats from mooring at Gloucester Docks is due to water being pumped into the canal during last year’s drought.

They have a contract with Bristol Water to supply the city with drinking water and trust representatives say they had to override their silt monitoring systems while pumping last summer. The Canal and River Trust supplies around half of the drinking water Bristol needs and they say the pumping was done to ensure they met their contract.

However, the issues affecting the Docks has hurt trade in the city and On Toast cafe owner organised a public meeting on April 27 in which people quizzed trust chiefs over the problem. Mr Purchase asked Canal and River Trust regional manager Robert Eaton how much they are being paid by Bristol Water.

“We need to know how much Bristol Water pays the Canal and River Trust. Because the first priority for that money is to put the Docks back to its original state as if no pumping had happened there,” he said.

“That should be the first project. The Ofwat report is talking about anything from £6m to £9m. That was an extra amount requested for the licence for the next few years. That may be wrong.”

Canal and River Trust regional manager Robert Eaton answered questions at the public meeting organised by David Purchase, second from left.

Mr Eaton said the figures quoted by Mr Purchase were wrong and they are paid “significantly less”. However, he refused to disclose how much the trust is actually being paid by Bristol Water.

“I’m not going to sit here tonight and discuss the commercial arrangements with Bristol Water. Safe to say that, I guarantee it’s a lot less than you’d expect.”

Mr Purchase encouraged the hundreds present at the meeting to ask for that information formally from the trust. Prior to the meeting, Gloucester City Councillor Pam Tracey (C, Westgate) suggested that Bristol Water should pay to dredge the Docks as the city is suffering at Bristol’s expense.

A Bristol Water spokesperson said at the time that they have a contract with the Canal and River and River Trust to use the Gloucester and Sharpness canal as a resilient water source for the Bristol Water area.

“Our contract with the Canal and River Trust means they are fully responsible for the maintenance and management of Gloucester Docks and how water is transferred into the canal,” they said.


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