Saturday 30 November 2019

CRT Jottings - Elected Boaters meeting 26th Nov 2019

CRT Jottings - Elected Boaters Meeting 
26 Nov 2019

A meeting between CRT and the Elected Boater Representatives took place last week in Aqua House, Birmingham and the following issues were discussed:

Strong Stream warning system
This on line service is not currently available due to a technical issue which is being addressed. 
The issues with the service are not limited to the current technical problems and it probably true to say that it is more accurately described as a water level indicator, as most measures don't include flow rates. The wording describing the warnings needs to be changed to better reflect what it does and where the data comes from. These feeds include SCADA, Manual input, EA measures plus inconsistent measures from the Kennet and Avon and other non CRT waters such at the Warwickshire Avon.

A single, consistent nationwide system is needed.

There is also inconsistency between the on line measures and the bankside boards where canals meet rivers.

The priority is to resolve the on line offering which can be done quickly and at minimal cost. Changes to the "in the field" hardware have budget implications and will will be considered alongside other asset requirements.

Election Update (CRT National Council)

The invitation for National Council nominees has resulted in a larger number or candidates than four years ago.

There are:
5 nominees for the two Business Boating seats
34 nominees for the four Private Boating seats.

The election process is detailed on CRT's website.

After election an integration programme will be deployed to bring the new representatives up to speed as quickly as possible.

There was concern that the nominees may not all appreciate what is expected of them beyond the 2 annual National Council meetings. It was suggested that in future an explanation paper should be issues to all individuals submitting an application, giving a detailed insight into what role is and entails before the closing date for withdrawal is reached - helping candidates make informed decisions.

Boater Survey update

The main annual boaters survey issued in Feb / March to 1/3 of license holders is now being supplemented by bi weekly surveys issued to 2500 licence holders triggered by boat sightings. These requests deliver approx 300 results every 2 weeks, and this supplementary research work generates near real time insights month by month. Because it is based on boat movements recorded it delivers opinions of travelling boats rather than those of moorers.

The overall satisfaction levels in the main annual survey had dropped to 62% (from 71%) but the additional feedback showed this score rising from 64% in April to a rolling average of 67% in September.

The key issues raised are facilities, non compliant boats, dredging and overhanging towpath vegetation.

I small Hire Boaters survey has been undertaken and the results will be circulated in the near future.

Overall the North, Wales and East Midlands are rated the highest.

Most respondees had visited CRT's website and 65% found it easy to use.

Key take away was that movers were more satisfied than those that don't move much. Also the levels of satisfaction were improving over the summer.

Wide-beam issues

There have been seven unbooked wide-beam passages through Blisworth Tunnel this summer. This is in contravention to license T&C's and represents a very significant H&S risk. There is also concern that some craft with excessive air draft may damage tunnels and bridges. The plan is to feed such passages into the license renewal approval process.

There was discussion about adding movable width restrictors at the ends of the tunnel, but given the levels of non compliant passages a retrospective warning system is preferred.

Wide- beam mooring can also be an issue and inconsiderate mooring on some bends,  and a suitable approach to apply penalties is being considered.

Three Words positioning application

This application is becoming more widely used to pinpoint individuals locations. CRT's call centre staff have this system available and a comms is being developed to raise awareness.

Water Point compliance

The need for various adaptations to public CRT water points was raised including insulation and non return valves. More stringent anti back syphon rules apply to taps near Elsan / pump out points.

CRT will take this potential away and consider what action may need to be built into their facilities programme.

Emissions issue

Feedback has been sought re the level of impact the proposed changes will have. So far CRT have 400 responses and these will be collated and submitted to the Government in Jan 2020.

Next Meeting is in February 2020.


Peter n/b Peru said...

Andy, regarding the SCADA system, it might help you to know about what happened on the River Severn this week. CRT thought that, on the section between Upper Lode lock (Tewkesbury) and Gloucester the levels would drop to a navigable level, after 5 weeks of being in flood. They thought that this might happen at some time on Monday and they booked passage for several boats to travel from Worcester and Upton to Gloucester on Thursday (the river being closed Tuesday and Wednesday in the winter and lockkeepers only attend for bookings made in advance). On Thursday the SCADA system was still showing a 'red light' for that section but 3 boats were allowed through Diglis lock (Worcester) to wait above Upper Lode lock for passage to Gloucester on Friday. On Friday morning the SCADA 'red light' was still on, and boaters were advised that passage to Gloucester would not be allowed until the red light had changed to Yellow.

It was only after it was pointed out that the EA river level gauge at Gloucester, and the level marker by the lock, clearly indicated that the river was at a safe (yellow) level, might indicate that the 'red light' indicator might be 'stuck', that CRT called SCADA and were advised that the sensor at Gloucester was not working properly and was indeed 'stuck' on red. At that point CRT opened the river and allowed all 9 or 10 boats to proceed down to Gloucester.

If CRT hadn't been prompted to check with SCADA, one wonders how long those boats would have been stuck on river pontoons at Upper Lode and Worcester!! (On Sunday the river is already back above safe levels, the levels are rising, and more rain is forecast in coming days!)

I agree that a good solution would be to have much more information from SCADA available to boaters via the website - like 'live' level readings from the sensors, maybe a chart of recent readings from each sensor, and reliable indications of which sensors are switched off (this sometimes appears on the current website, apparently at random, and showed that 3 of the 4 sensors on that reach were switched off so the only sensor switched on was the one at Gloucester, which was giving misleading information!).

It was only possible to draw this problem to CRT's attention was because of remote access to the 5 day chart on the EA gauge at Gloucester (which normally shows about 1.2 metres when the river goes into/out of the red zone). If we had public access to the SCADA levels data, rather than just the status of the lights, it would have been possible to identify the problem much sooner. On Friday morning the EA gauge was showing 1.02 metres so, to those of us who were following levels avidly, waiting for them to drop, something was very clearly wrong with the 'red light'.

Best regards

Andy Tidy said...

Sorry to hear of your problems on the Severn Peter -I suspect you were in the company of N+Martin on Towpath Tipples who has been stuck at Upton for a month.
I will pass on the observations to Matthew Symonds of CRT who is looking at the options.

Peter n/b Peru said...

I have heard that Martin got to Gloucester safely today as he was not able to get away sooner for family reasons, and he endured a bit of 'whitewater narrowboating', riding white horses on the river, because it was quite windy. Any remaining tipples probably got a good shake!