Canal boat trips across parts of the Midlands and the south face measures that will force them to avoid travel along many routes due to the drought.
British Waterways has placed restrictions on an estimated 245 miles of its national network, with many only open at certain times, at weekends or closed completely.
Locks on some routes have been padlocked while certain areas have banned overnight mooring as the dry weather leave some reservoir holdings at “critical levels,” the Daily Telegraph reports.
The Grand Union Canal, which links London to Birmingham including its “Leicester line” and the Northampton and Aylesbury arms, is affected by the measures, as are the Oxford Canal throughout Warwickshire and the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Bath, Somerset.
Officials admitted the measures will have an “impact” on travel plans as some operators force holidaymakers to seek alternative routes away from restricted areas. There are fears it could cause congestion in some parts.
Restrictions have been imposed following talks with boating organisations, canal societies and waterway businesses who “broadly” support the action. Operators have reported no cancellations so far.
British Waterways defended the measures, saying that while it did not want to restrict opening times, particularly so early in the boating season, it was an “unusual year”.
A spokesman said the restrictions would help “conserve water for peak demands later”.
“By locking stretches of canal at the end of the day we’ll give the water levels in the canal time to recover overnight and also minimise any unnecessary wastage,” he said.
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