Current Water Shortage Issues on the Mon&Brec Canal in Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen.

The severe water shortage on both the Main Line and Crumlin Arm on the Mon & Brec canal in Torfaen County Borough Council and Newport City Council areas, has been reported by many concerned residents. Our Trust has also been very concerned. As the Councils are the owners of the canal within their respective areas, we have spoken to officers at each Council regarding the issue, and discussed what remedial action is appropriate.

We believe that the water shortages are caused by a number of factors:

The Crumlin Arm (Cwmcarn – Newport)

  • The Crumlin Arm’s main water supply was originally the Pen-y-Fan Canal Reservoir. This crucial source of water was cut off due to the duelling of the A467 which also destroyed 3 miles of canal. This has resulted in water shortages during drought conditions. We have had little rain for the past few weeks until very recently.
  • Caerphilly County Borough Council are carrying out major canal relining works which have resulted in no water flow down the canal to Newport. Although the work is welcome the water flow has been interrupted as a result. See our news post Major maintenance works to reline sections of the Crumlin Arm for more information.
  • A top-up feeder at Manor Road in Risca which diverts surface water from the Ty Sign housing estate into the canal has had to be shut down due to the water becoming polluted. This appears to be due to some illegal sink and dishwasher connections which have been plumbed into the surface water sewer as opposed to the the foul sewer.

We have been assured by Caerphilly CBC that arrangements have now been put in place to pump water over the relining works area. The Manor Road feeder will also be turned on with daily monitoring of water quality. Our Trust will also ask Welsh Water to track down the source of the polluted water. Newport City Council have informed us that they will be installing stop planks sealed with clay to conserve water at strategic locations along the Crumlin Arm.

The Main Line (Brecon – Newport)

  • Many of the structures and culverts installed by Cwmbran Development Corporation have impeded free flow of the water south which is exacerbated when we have long period of dry weather as we have had until recently.
  • The thrust boring works near Bridge 46 at South Sebastopol is having an impact on water flow southwards. As we stated in our Press Statement on 5th Sept 2020 the work by Taylor Wimpey was having a negative impact on water flows at that time. The remedial work currently being undertaken to restore the canal navigation is also affecting water flows in the short term.
  • It is understood that two canal feeders had been blocked up recently by children, which resulted in a drop in water levels at the Ty Coch flight in Cwmbran.
  • There are a number of leaks in the canal bed in the Pentre Lane area.
  • Having been restored in 1999, the lock gates at Ty Ffynnon lock in the Newport City Council section of the canal have rotted away resulting in water flowing away.

Works are well under way at Bridge 46 to reline the canal and remove the temporary dams. We look forward to the completion of the work when normal water flow, and navigation to Five Locks can resume. We have had discussions with Torfaen County Borough Council who have confirmed that they are inspecting known past leakage points for problems and intend carrying out survey works in order to identify the source of the leaks at Pentre Lane, and produce estimates for their repair. The blockages to the feeders have been removed

Newport City Council have said that the low level of water in their section of the canal is due to no water crossing the boundaries from both Torfaen and Caerphilly Council areas. They have confirmed that they intend installing stop planks with clay sealing in order to preserve any future water flows.

We are grateful to users of the canal who have raised issues with the relevant canal owners.

You can find further details of the responsible canal owners on our Who Manages the Canal? page.

Featured photo at the top of this post – the dry Crumlin Arm canal just north of the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre April 2021 – ©Kate Wickens