Basic facilities top list of canal concerns

Canal users are concerned about basic facilities according to a survey conducted by the IWA Photo: wikimedia Canal users are concerned about basic facilities according to a survey conducted by the IWA Photo: wikimedia

Basic facilities such as clean water, rubbish and portable toilet emptying dominate canal users' concerns according to a recent survey conducted by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA).

The Gaptracker survey invited responses on topics such as clean water availability, rubbish and portable toilet emptying, showers, electric charging points and recycling facilities.

Basic facilities attracted 84% of all comments with nearly two thirds expressing a desire for more amenities. Where this was specified it was invariably portable toilet emptying that was of concern. Rubbish disposal was also of concern with most of the comments relating to overflowing bins.

Astonishing lack of facilities

"The problem that seems universal is a shortage of rubbish bins, or at least a dearth of emptying them promptly and, above all, a lack of recycling facilities," commented one respondent. "It seems astonishing, given the Canal & River Trust's role in well-being, that both of these deficiencies prevail on the very waterways we are trying to preserve and protect."

Availability of rinse hoses, mooring space and standards of portable toilet disposal were also of concern and respondents were keen to suggest new ideas such as a collaboration with caravan organisations to create joint amenities centres.


The IWA recommends that new facilities can be far more simply built than existing designs, even suggesting that basic facilities do not need to be housed at all. Toilet emptying points can be open to the elements, taps are best free-standing and rubbish bins should be kept inside roofless compounds.

Facilities should be in locations no more than five hours from each other and should be available round-the-clock. The IWA is also keen for rubbish bins to be accessible only from the water to prevent their use by non-boaters.

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