01 March 2001
Britain's canal operator is planning to use its 200-year-old system for major water supply contracts following a deal with Bristol Water for drinking water.
The 3,000-mile network could become a "national water grid", according to British Waterways, which operates the system. "This is a huge opportunity which will significantly increase our revenue so we can reinvest in the network," a spokeswoman told SM.
It earns £4 million a year from supplying water, mainly to industrial customers including farmers and water firms. Although Bristol Water has been taking canal water - up to 100 million litres a day - from time to time since 1962, this contract, signed late last year is the first where British Waterways guarantees long-term supply.
"Our natural resources, such as boreholes, are currently running dry. We use the canal like a water main and it guarantees water for the next 30 years which is crucial," said a Bristol Water spokesman.