A picturesque stretch of the Lancaster Canal has been closed to boaters following a leak which flooded a nature reserve.
The Lune Aqueduct has been drained of water following the leak which occured on the canal embankment 100m south of the aqueduct.
Thousands of fish have been “stunned” and removed from the closed section of canal by contractors on Tuesday and Wednesday who said they had rescued carp, roach, bream and tench from the water.
The fish were taken to safety either side of temporary dams which have been installed at Halton Road Bridge (no 108) and 370 metres north of Dolphinlee Bridge (no 105).
The canal towpath remains open to pedestrians and cyclists, but the waterway is closed to boaters whilst an investigation and repair work is carried out.
The leak was noticed last Friday, June 19, and monitored over the weekend.
The Lune Aqueduct was drained in 2011 as part of a £2m repair and restoration project, which was completed in 2012.
Chantelle Seaborn, waterway manager with the Canal & River Trust, said: “A 730m section of the Lancaster Canal is being drained over the Lune Aqueduct in Lancaster after a leak was identified during the Trust’s weekly engineering inspection. The leak is coming from the canal embankment about 100 metres south of the aqueduct, not the aqueduct itself.
“Engineers are currently on site and expect the canal to be fully drained by the end of Wednesday ahead of a full inspection of the clay-lined canal bed. At that stage they will be able to predict how long the canal will need to be closed for repairs.
“Part of the nature reserve below the aqueduct has flooded but this is a result of water leaking from the canal bed further south and seeping down the embankment. A section of the nature reserve footpath has been closed until the water drains away. Once the canal is completely empty, further flooding of the reserve will stop.”
Ms Seaborn said the 200-year-old age of the canal highlighted the daily challenge the Trust faces in caring for our historic waterways.
She added: “The Trust’s customer service staff are contacting boaters who may be affected by the canal closure and we hope to return it to navigation again as soon as possible.
“We are hoping to be able to keep the towpath across the aqueduct open during the repair work.”