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Restoring River Water Levels Delayed

Published on: 14 May, 2020
Updated on: 15 May, 2020

The temporary dam that is expected to be removed in June.

Restoring the water levels in the River Wey has been delayed until June. The water level dropped when the Tumbling Bay Weir collapsed in November making the stretch between St Catherine’s and Millmead Locks unnavigable for pleasure boats and other river craft.

The dry river bed by Millmead Lock after the collapse in November 2019.

In a statement, Guildford Borough Council said: “[The] council and the National Trust continue to work together to complete the complex repairs of the weir. To carry out the repairs as quickly as possible, we will be working longer days and at weekends.

“We are observing social distancing measures in line with the current national situation to protect our staff and residents while work takes place.

“The temporary dam next to the rowing club is due to be dismantled by June 24. River levels will then return to normal so it will once again be navigable.”

Asked why the delay had occurred a council spokesperson said: “Timelines can move with projects of this nature. We now anticipate, following revisions to the programme and longer working hours, that the project will be completed and the river navigable again by mid-June.”

Guildford Rowing Club Badge

Paul Woowat, chairman of Guildford Rowing club commented: “We understand dismantling of the temporary dam has started with a target date of river levels back to normal by June 12.  Whatever the date, we need to plan for our return to rowing and be able to advise our members accordingly.

“We are concerned that, as we understand it, no work is currently planned for repairing river banks and removing debris in the water.  Until that work is undertaken we will not have full use of the navigation in the normal way and it will drastically limit how we can use the river safely.

Russell Chase, director of Farncombe Boat House, added: “Since the articles on The Guildford Dragon, and a further nudge from us for an update on the weir, we have had communication apparently switched back on by the National Trust management from the latter part of last week with some emails and telephone calls.

“We have been advised that the section of water between Millmead and St Catherine’s locks should be re-watered in mid-June and then re-opened to boating traffic, once it has been made safe to use by boaters as soon after this date as possible.

“What needs to be done to make it safe has already been assessed, they just need time to get back on the water to get it done once levels are back up; some work needs to be done by water.

Farncombe Boat House

“In terms of how this slippage affects us, it does not change the fact that we have not had the ability to earn hire boat income since November 2019 and continue not to be able to do so. This adds to the cost of refunds we have had to make for April and May, and now until at least mid-June. This, of course, was the early part of our season where the majority of 2020 bookings, taken during our winter booking period, were due to take place as.

“Some customers have agreed to defer to a later date in the year, which is great, but some can’t make a later date so will or have been given a refund.

“Irrespective of Covid-19 measures, we as a company will not be in a position to re-open or re-advertise our hire services until the river is re-opened to navigation following the completion of these works some eight and a half months after the collapse. So the delay means to us the continuation of our inability to trade in hire boat services.”

“The UK hire boat industry sits firmly in the leisure, tourism and hospitality sector and for the present has not been given the green light from the government to re-open. Private leisure boating in the UK, albeit with strict Covid-19 measures still imposed on their boat use including, I believe, the River Wey below Guildford and above St Catherine’s Lock is due to be reopened to private leisure boaters from this Saturday, May 16 2020.

“Notice of this will I guess be displayed on NT River Wey website to this effect along with the strict Covid-19 measures they will need to follow if using their boats.”

See other stories on the weir collapse and repair here.

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