Parts of French canals closed to boats due to low water level

Rivers in France remain navigable despite the drought affecting much of the country, but some canals have been partially closed due to low water levels.

Cécile Vousdard of Voies navigables de France, which is responsible for managing the majority of the country’s waterways, said: “Despite the drought it is possible to travel without too much difficulty” on the rivers.

“We manage to maintain the water line thanks to our efforts, which mainly concern the dam systems.

“Thus the Seine and Rhône-Saône river basins and the basin which serves the port of Dunkirk are still navigable for the moment.

She added that boat passage is “limited” on the Rhine, as containment measures are not in place on the German side. “The water goes faster to the sea and the water levels are lower.

“It’s still possible to pass through, but the waterline is lower, the draft is reduced. This means that the boats are obliged to carry only a third of their capacity to be able to cross the whole network.

Ms.vezard added that some canals are “closed” because these waterways “are much more dependent on the rain gauge”.

“There are areas where we have been forced to close [the canal] boats because the draft is insufficient or because there are other uses of water which have priority and which mean that water cannot be drawn from the natural environment to maintain the water level.

“It can be for drinking water in Nancy, for example, or for irrigation, or for tourism.”

Channels that have been closed include:

“On our canals, we really try to save water as much as possible, for example by collecting the lock to limit water loss.

“There are a number of channels that are quite popular with tourists, on which we ask users to travel in groups.”

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