FOR MANY, a walk along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Gwent is a peaceful chance to get some exercise and see some nature – especially during spring when there are lots of new arrivals.

However, walkers have become concerned over the past week after large sections of the canal were seen completely dry.

The National Wales: The lack of water on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal between Pontymason Lane and Fourteen Locks in Rogerstone

The stretch of canal on the Crumlin Arm between Pontymason Lane in Risca and the Fourteen Locks in Rogerstone has a few areas of low water levels, and some of it is completely empty.

Water levels are also low on the main line between Brecon and Newport which goes through Cwmbran.

This had led to concerns for the wildlife, with ducks, ducklings and moorhens wading through the mud. Many people have reported this to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Trust, and to the local councils.

A statement Trust’s website dated Saturday, May 1 said: “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 in their respective areas, we have spoken to officers at each council regarding the issue and discussed what remedial action is appropriate.”

The National Wales: The lack of water on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal between Pontymason Lane and Fourteen Locks in Rogerstone

The Trust have given some information in relation to the issues that have led to the water shortage in the areas.

For the Crumlin Arm which runs between Cwmcarn and Newport, they say canal relining works further up the canal in Crosskeys have resulted in no water flowing down the canal which is leading to a shortage.

Another issue they believe is causing the shortage is that the main water supply was originally the Pen-y-Fan Canal Reservoir. This was cut off when the A467 was duelled and this destroyed three miles of canal. Previously this has led to a shortage of water during drought conditions like we have had recently.

Another factor is the top-up feeder at Manor Road in Risca. This usually diverts surface water from the houses in Ty Sign to the canal, but had to be shut down following the water becoming polluted.


The reasons they have provided for the main line drought between Brecon and Newport includes the structures and culverts installed by Cwmbran Development Corporation impeding free flow water, which is exacerbated during long periods of dry weather.

They also highlight the thrust boring works near Bridge 46 at South Sebastopol as having an impact on water flow southwards.

Two canal feeders had also recently been blocked by children, which meant that there was a drop in water levels at the Ty Coch flight in Cwmbran.

A number of leaks have also been found in the canal bed in the Pentre Lane area, and the lock gates at Ty Ffynnon lock have eroded away which has led to water flowing away.

What plans are there to fix the problem?

The Trust has been told by Caerphilly County Borough Council that water will be pumped over the relining works area after arrangements were put in place for this to go ahead.

The National Wales: The lack of water on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal between Pontymason Lane and Fourteen Locks in Rogerstone

The feeder on Manor Road will be turned on and there will be daily monitoring of the water quality. The Trust will also ask Welsh Water to track the source of the polluted water. Newport City Council will install stop planks sealed with clay to conserve water at strategic locations along the Crumlin Arm.

Remedial work is being done around Bridge 46 in South Sebastopol to restore the canal navigation and reline the canal as well as removing the temporary dams. Torfaen County Borough Council are inspecting known past leakage points for problems and will be carrying out survey works in order to identify the source of the Pentre Lane leaks. Blockages to the feeders have been removed.

Newport City Council have said the low level of water in their section is due to no water crossing the boundaries from both Torfaen and Caerphilly areas.