The Canal and River Trust has started a three month, £300,000 maintenance programme to canals and rivers across Calderdale.
As part of this restoration and repair programme, engineers and skilled workmen will drain sections of the Calder & Hebble Navigation, craning out old lock gates and installing new ones.
Works has begun at Salterhebble Middle Lock with other works planned at Park Nook, near Elland, and Cooper Bridge.
In addition to this year’s winter maintenance programme, the Trust is launching a three month survey to uncover ‘what lurks beneath’ the canals.
Across the country hundreds of shopping trolleys, traffic cones, car tyres, bottles and plastic bags are hauled out of the canals by the Trust and its volunteers at a cost of nearly £1 million each year.
The Trust, which is calling for an end to rubbish being dumped in its waterways, will be announcing the results in spring 2016.
Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Calderdale’s waterways are some of the most scenic in the country but people may not realise that there’s quite a lot of work needed to look after them.
“Our teams are out in all weathers and over the next few months our engineers and heritage experts will be braving the cold to give the canals the care and attention they deserve.
“It’s painstaking, specialised work but the canals are an important part of the region’s heritage so it’s right that we devote some time and craftsmanship to help protect them for future generations.”
As part of its maintenance programme, the Trust will be working on around 164 lock gates across the country as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels. Many of the biggest projects are carried out during the winter months to minimise the impact on waterway users.
The new lock gates are hand-crafted using traditional methods in the Trust’s specialist workshops at Bradley in the West Midlands and Stanley Ferry in Yorkshire. A single lock gate can take up to 20 days to make and has a working life of between 25 and 30 years. In order to be watertight they need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.