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TOPIC: Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413

Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 04 Aug 2022 20:43 #131005

  • Andy Soper
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I think the competence shown in this article from Emma Howard Boyd and James Bevan explains why the EA is unfit for purpose at all levels and in all functions.

Navigation is 1% of the budget - we have little hope of fcompetent management.

My complaint about EA Navigation management is now with the Parliamentary Ombudsman after nearly a year of brush-off replies from the various levels of EA 'management'. My thanks to Mrs May for forwarding it.

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 04 Aug 2022 14:46 #130993

  • Keith Norfolk
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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 31 Jul 2022 16:29 #130926

  • Keith Norfolk
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A further update.
I have today once again topped up my tank at Cleve lock and timed the exercise. It took 45 mins to put in three hundred litres which equates to 6.6 litres per minute.
While waiting I looked up the details of this standpipe assembly www.arrowvalves.co.uk/3-4-standpipe-assy-cat-5 and downloaded the data sheet which I have attached.
You will note this little paragraph in the datasheet
''As the Standpipe features a break tank with type AB air gap, it
is suitable for applications deemed to be Category 5 by the
local water supplier. By default, all commercial Hose Union
taps are Fluid Category 5 (G6.1e). ''
So the reasoning behind these installations is not that the Thames itself is classed as a Category 5 risk, it is the hose unions themselves.
This explains why taps for filling containers don't need such devices and why those with hose unions have had them sawn off.
Only Abingdon and Cleve have had these break tank standpipes installed so far ''as a trial''.
So, given the reasoning, I think that Arrow Valves are about to make a killing and we shall be seeing these all over the country eventually, either that or many water points will disappear altogether.

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jul 2022 11:37 #130909

  • Keith Norfolk
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Quite possibly Andy.
What I would like to know is, if the water quality of the Thames is so hazardous why aren't all water sports banned from taking place upon or in it?
Likewise, why aren't there warning signs placed at every public access point throughout it's length?

What is Category 5 (CAT 5) Water Supply? And what does category 5 mean? Fluid category 5 (CAT 5) is described as a fluid representing a serious health hazard because of the concentration of pathogenic organisms, radioactive or very toxic substances. This includes any fluid which contains faecal material or other human waste, butchery or other animal waste, or pathogens from any other source.

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 29 Jul 2022 22:37 #130893

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It is possible but pure conjecture:

When it comes to the Water Regulations the water company, Thames Water, becomes the regulator and EA the recalcitrant customer.

Could this be tit for tat following TWs huge pollution fines imposed by EA prosecutions?

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 29 Jul 2022 22:24 #130892

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If I was running EA I would be challenging:

The Categorisation of the Thames as a CAT 5 waterway. 16 CUMECs of water pass through Cookham lock but only 6 through Teddiingto so Thames Water are happy to extract from the Thames. (They stop when flow is high as the turbidity blocks their filters)

DEFRA - EA’s host department apparently changed the classification from CAT 3 without notice.

All Thames marinas are supplying water with only double check valves. Some have ‘not potable’ tags

CRT have addressed this issue with BMF and others - no issues with CAT 5 on canals!

If EA want to solve this issue with expensive engineering then we need water towers like the railway steam train ones!

I have been banging on about this with other association colleagues for months. - EA is a process organisation - it doesn’t do results.

Sadly EA have no formal remit to supply potable water to their customers.

Do write to your MP about the poor value we get for our registration fee.

My complaint about EA inadequate management is now with my MP - Mrs May for submission to the Parliamentary Ombudsman - just another 17 page submission.
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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 29 Jul 2022 17:17 #130885

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Hi Chris, please excuse my lazy terminology, when I refer to non return valves I should have said check valves.
A double check valve would not be a solution if a hose is permanently attached because they are only suitable up to category 3 applications as here-
www.waterregsuk.co.uk/news/newsletter/categories/installer_news/non-return_valves/

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 29 Jul 2022 15:24 #130881

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Surely a tap/cock with a built in [double] check valve is all that's
required. They are mandatory in the water regulations for all
domestic outside taps for exactly this reason, prevention of back
flow.



--
Chris Green

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 29 Jul 2022 15:17 #130880

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The nonsense regarding the Category 5 issue is that it would have been easy ( and cheap ) to make provisions to comply with the regs.
All that was necessary, as I've said before, was to have no fixed hoses and ( as is required in all hose connection taps, commercial and domestic ) an inline non return valve.
The risk of contaminated back flow into the water supply can only occur when a fixed hose is left lying on the ground, there is no risk when there is no hose attached. EA actually got that part right initially by saying that all boaters must supply their own hose ( do we now get a refund of the now unnecessary cost btw? ) . If the reasoning for the anti back flow device was that back flow could occur during times of flood then the taps could have been raised to a position above historic flood levels if they weren't already.
No doubt the cost of this nonsense will be passed on to us.

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 28 Jul 2022 22:10 #130870

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Thanks for the update!

With other boating organisations we continue to press EA to tackle this issue.

I suspect - with no evidence whatsoever - that Thames Water is doing a tit for tat on EA as they have been taken to court so often by EA (including a £26M fine that should have their shareholder dividend and directors' bonuses but only increased customers charges.

Some 15 CUMECS (cubic meters/tons of water persecond) of water are flowing a past us but only 6 CUMECs reach Teddington despite the input from the Wey, Colne etc. How much of this CAT5 polluted water are Thames Water extracting for London reservoirs?

With colleagues we have advised EA to challenge the apparent knee-jerk re-categorisation of the Thames, by DEFRA their host department, to the most polluted category 5. But as usual it is too much like hard work on their part.

Similarly they seem unwilling to engage with commercial operators such as marinas to see how they have managed the legislation.

Still on the case ..........
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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 28 Jul 2022 20:28 #130869

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OK, I visited the Cleve Lock water point today and can report that some improvements have been made which enable me to use the new contraption. A cruiser was having its tank filled when I arrived and the lady owner said that it used to take 15 minutes to fill but now takes 45 minutes.Steve ( lock keeper ) said that a flow restricter had been removed, this has improved things somewhat with regards flow and I was surprised to find that even with my high filler water continued to flow where it didn't previously. It still took an hour to put approx 600 litres in though so I was glad that I hadn't let the tank get too low, especially as two boats had turned up for water just as I was about to start filling!
The adjacent standard type tap with the anti back flow device has had its supply turned off ''because people had been taking it apart and using it''
( I can't imagine who that would have been :whistle: )
As I say, things have improved but they could be a lot better. The river, above Reading at least, is so very quiet so far this Summer that it makes me wonder what chaos will ensue when it actually gets busy again.

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 16:22 #130401

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The filtration systems look pretty expensive to me , especially considering the regular costs of replacement filters and UV lamps.
Just have to keep the pressure on EA to come to their senses instead.

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 11:13 #130394

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 11:11 #130393

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Charles Mclaren wrote: Hi, last year we took Viod up to Oxford… Had been warned about the lunacy of the watering points so I fitted a a filter system, 50 20 and 5 µm and then ultraviolet tube to kill any remaining bacteria. ..... It was supplied by Midland water. not hugely expensive and easy to do. C

For anyone interested in a system like this, see the DBA Knowlegebase article HERE
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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.

Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 10:46 #130392

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Hi Charles,

Can you provide a link please?

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 10:43 #130391

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 10:24 #130390

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Hi, last year we took Viod up to Oxford… Had been warned about the lunacy of the watering points so I fitted a a filter system, 50 20 and 5 µm and then ultraviolet tube to kill any remaining bacteria. They say by the time the thames gets to London it has been drunk 3 times!! Water tested just fine and in fact tastes nicer than Thames waters chlorinated offering We can’t use it down at Towerbridge because the water is slightly brackish but above hTeddington it’s great and removes so many worries. It was supplied by Midland water. not hugely expensive and easy to do. C

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 10:11 #130389

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Good points well made!

Cannot open your photos - can you resend please?

Experience shows that the limiters fitted on Cookham and Molesley locks are only hand tight - unscrew- fill boat - replace fitting handtight.

We have asked EA to challenge Thames Water and exp[lore whether marking the outlets 'non-potable' will save all this expensive and useless modifications. Nothing heard yet!

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 30 Jun 2022 09:51 #130388

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It seems to me that the EA employs certain people for the sole purpose of wasting thousands of pounds.
They might as well tell them to light a daily bonfire of cash.

The failure of their ridiculous ''solution'' to a problem that didn't exist has led them to come up with an even more ridiculous ''solution''.
DEFRA should be demanding the sacking of these fools who could have solved the problem at the cost of just a few pounds per water point.
The latest ''bright idea'' of a gravity feed hose which came into use at Cleve lock yesterday has shown itself to be very close to useless.
The hose won't supply water unless the boat's filler is at ground level and even then the water just dribbles out. I had to use the alternative tap with the anti back flow device, and it's well known inefficiencies, because 'Petra's' filler is four feet from ground level. Water is a very precious resource and any wastage should be avoided, especially by an organisation that calls itself the Environment Agency, but this little gadget wastes 80% of what comes out of the tap! Needless to say this latest money wasting exercise was already causing chaos and lock keeper Steve ( who was doing his level best to be helpful ) was on the verge of tearing his hair out and this is when there is very little traffic on the river!

Keith




[img ]https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMRrJyWLbe-nCVdeR1AtAUZfWqHIDKGynC8TwhA[img ]https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipM6lK-S_RbPBTwsdJal3BMoBh7KdGerGYY3kfWZ[/img]

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 03 May 2022 13:44 #129458

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Hello Andy,
I got around to reading the Thames user forum notes - I did smile when I read “ EA are very excited about their first net zero carbon lock – Northmoor. Members were delighted that the historic paddle and rhymer weir has been retained”
I think they must be desperate for good news as Northmoor is as it’s always been - what makes it greener now - apart from not replacing the weir after resistance from people to the EA plan.
Keep up the good work Andy - they need an injection of reality.
Kind regards
Richard
In a minute

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 21 Apr 2022 10:36 #129300

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Hello Keith,

One step at a time - EA Thames are not even holding face to face meetings yet.

(I did have a three hour face to face with the team investigating my formal complaint on management competence but I still haven't had their report yet)
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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 21 Apr 2022 10:13 #129297

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Thanks Andy,
I'm wondering if your meeting could be held at a water point ( Hurley perhaps ) with a barge that has an empty tank?
If EA don't see the problem after all the complaints they've had already, just talking about it is unlikely to achieve anything.

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 21 Apr 2022 10:02 #129296

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Hello Keith,

Mark Hill - Ops Manager and Harbour master has responded inviting me to talk the issues through on 25 April.

More later..........

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 20 Apr 2022 22:44 #129287

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So do I take it that nothing has been done to the water points because EA don't understand the problem?

Keith

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Environment Agency Thames Navigation Users Forum 20220413 13 Apr 2022 22:00 #129178

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I attended a meeting of the Thames Navigation Users Forum on Wednesday 13 April. Some 25 people attended with about 15 from user organisations including all of the principal boating user organisations (RBOA, NABO, RYA, ATYC, TMBA, IWA ) along with British Rowing and Canoe England.

Less than a week before EA circulated 46 pages of papers for consideration at this 2.5 hour virtual meeting (EA not embraced face to face meetings yet). Many attendees expressed disappointment at the expected range of topics but welcomed the delivery of papers before the meeting.

I met virtually with a number of boating reps two days before the meeting to agree likely lines of discussion, agreement and challenge.

In this note I will summarise the key points and issues:

Item 3 – Thames Waterway Overview
There has been some unreported shrinkage in headcount between 2018 (60 Resident lock-keepers (LWK) and reliefs) to today (about 55 Resident lock-keepers and reliefs). There was some confusion as none of the managers were in post in 2018! Some 24 temporary LWK are being recruited this year but may not be fully inducted until late April. The 2018 figure for volunteers was 250 but only 153 had reported for duty last week. EA advised at the meeting that there were now 183 returners and some 78 new volunteers for training.
The estimated minimum to achieve 7 day cover is about 78 LWK so 55 + 24 should be adequate to single man all locks – although there is still some significant absence due to COVID which may explain some of the dual and triple siting of LWK this Easter weekend. EA have assured us that the will deploy managers to cover some of the gaps but no update of the rota yet.

Boat registrations so far this year are down on both 2021 and 2020. Accommodation charges (for jetties and piles) are similarly down, there is a software problem and gapped posts in the licensing team. Both of these issues are resulting in a loss of income for EA.

EA are very excited about their first net zero carbon lock – Northmoor. Members were delighted that the historic paddle and rhymer weir has been retained.

24 hour moorings
EA presented a somewhat disjointed plan for managing short term moorings. Members were not impressed as it has no electronic payment options, inadequate oversight and enforcement and a slew
of relaxations for breakdowns, medical issues etc. that will be easy to abuse. Discussion was guillotined due to shortness of time and further discussions will take place.

Water Points and Pump-outs
Again guillotined due to time constraints. EA do not seem to understand the problem, solutions or the impact on users. Further discussions will take place.

Item 4 – Winter Works
While EA were congratulated on opening the river fully on 31 March after the winter works it ws unfortunate that they immediately closed Rushey lock for two weeks for further work the disrupting up-river hire trade.
Probably the biggest disappointment of the winter works is the failure to address the unreliability of the operating pedestals under public power as they failed to find a competent contractor for the second year running.

Item 5 - Enforcement
Enforcement following up reported registration and other issues is in the hands of a manager and just 6 warranted officers. The fairly good news is that the cost comes out of the central EA funds and not navigation but as the top-slicing of earnings is 47.6% navigation deserves to get some attention.
EA were keen to report their success in prosecuting Alastair Trotman (owner of 5 bnb slumboats) including awarding of costs to EA of £20K. Sadly at the court awarded rate of £200 per month it will be some time before we see the money!
Thames Motor Boat Association (TMBA) carried out a desktop survey of the Thames via Google. This shows that the number of boats on the Thames in 2019 is very similar to that in 2021. Unfortunately – see above- registrations are down. No enforcement no income. I reminded the meeting that in the grey areas of Facebook it is common knowledge that declaring ‘Mickey Mouse’ ‘no fixed abode’ will get you through Teddington lock and even if you are chased up as long as you pay the registration fee before court day there will be no penalty. EA will drop the case.
I am told it will be different this year…..

Item 6 Finance
I welcomed to much clearer financial reporting in the pack. However, a 1 January registration year for Thames and a financial year start on 1 April continues to make understanding of income and expenditure very difficult. Both Anglian and Medway EA waterways start their registration year on 1 April matching the financial year. I have again asked why Thames registration year cannot be matched to the financial year. No satisfactory response was forthcoming – it was either DEFRA / EA or Treasury rules but no-one was sure!

Item 7 National Navigation
EA has a National Navigation department under the oversight of Deputy Director Andy Wilkinson.
His report to the meeting was re-hash of his newsletter to National representatives (DBA is a national rep). I reported in February on the rather unsatisfactory meeting of the National Users. His report repeated his plans for a new complex ‘Engagement’ model unchanged despite the challenges at the National Users meeting. I explained our disappointment that despite strong representation by boater organisations no amendments appear to have been made. The arrogance was clear – we know best – no changes. Apparently there are some 49 organisations that EA are approaching to improve the diversity of their Forums. A request for sight of the list was ignored.

Item 8 Communication
Two members of the Forum attend an Agenda drafting meeting with EA. This item was a surprise addition! EA stated that they will be re-instating (!) their customer newsletter which will be emailed to all registered customers. Their proposed list of statistics was a dull as ditchwater and we suggested that something similar to the Volunteer newsletter might be more interesting. EA were reminded that the Forum has a Comms Sub-group which might usefully have been involved in preparation of this proposal.

Item 9 AOB
Proposed voluntary Code of Practice for Rowers,Sailors, and Swimmers by RUG8 . Short of time only limited discussion and a reminder that RUG6 have had a Code for some years.

Item 10
Date of next meeting – Hybrid – week commencing 17 October.

As ever – happy to take any questions or provide amplification or explanation.
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