W=ater l=evels in the upper River Thames
Water levels in the upper River Thames, particularly up=stream of Abingdon lock, will be shallower than you are used to in som=e places, due to below average rainfall this year.
With this in mind we are asking bo=aters to take extra care, especially immediately downstream of locks w=here the natural gradient of the river means levels are always slightl=y lower than elsewhere in the reach.
For your safety, we have marked all known shallo=w areas in the main navigation channel (the middle third of the river,= also known as the =E2=80=98fairway=E2=80=99) with red and green buoys=. Please ensure you are familiar with the rules of navigation around o=bstructions marked in this way - they are there to protect you and you=r boat from harm. You may find the diagram on page 13 of the River Thame=s cruising guide helpful.
Remember, boats coming towards you may have to manoeuvr=e around an obstruction even if you don=E2=80=99t. Also, other boats m=ay be harder to handle than yours, and their skippers less experienced=, so please be considerate.
Where we can, we will also mark obstructions that we are =aware of, or are reported to us, outside of the main navigation channe=l. We cannot mark every one however, so do please be vigilant. You can= report an obstruction to us on 03708 506 506. Please also remember th=at a mooring may be shallower than the last time you used it.
We are doing all that w=e can to maintain the depths of navigation as published on www.gov.uk<=/a>.
Actions we= are taking include closing all our weirs and placing =E2=80=98summer =boards=E2=80=99 on those that can accommodate them to raise their heig=ht. This means we can hold more water back, so raising levels. We are =also carrying out additional checks for any leaks in our weir gates an=d ensuring they are staunched.
In addition, we have instructed our lock staff in the =Oxford area to try to avoid emptying locks unless they contain at leas=t one boat, wherever possible. This ensures we are making the most of =the considerable volume of water that is released downstream each time= a lock is used.
If water levels continue to drop, it will be increasingly difficult =for us to maintain depths, even if we implement additional measures su=ch as restricted lock use. We hope to avoid the need for additional me=asures but may not be able to unless there is significant rainfall ove=r the coming weeks.
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Where possible we will also ask our lock staff to advise you of a=ny known shallow areas ahead of you. To help you assess whether or not= to continue your journey, you may want to check your boat=E2=80=99s d=raft if you don=E2=80=99t already know it. Above Iffley Lock we cannot= guarantee the navigation channel will always be sufficiently deep for= craft with a draft of 0.9m or more.
We are of course monitoring the situation very c=losely and will let you know immediately if there are any further deve=lopments you need to be aware of.
We hope you have found this communication helpful i=n planning your cruising this summer, and hope it is not unduly affect=ed by weather conditions.
Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.
= River Thames Waterway Operations
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