MORE funding will be needed to solve the problem of falling water levels at Sankey Canal, the head of Halton Council has warned.

The World reported recently how a meeting had been hosted by Halton MP Derek Twigg over the ongoing issue at the canal and Spike Island. Water levels have fallen drastically due to the closure of Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station which had fed the canal.

The meeting was also attended by Warrington South Conservative MP Andy Carter, the heads of Halton and Warrington Borough Councils, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, the Environment Agency, United Utilities and Peel Holdings. After the meeting, Mr Twigg said a ‘workable solution’ had been found.

This involves pumping water in from the River Mersey from a point close to the Fiddlers Ferry Marina. Officers from Warrington have been working up a scheme that would use the building that previously acted as a pump house for the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station.

Peel Holdings, current owners of the pumping facility, told the meeting that they would draw up a licence agreement allowing Warrington Council to install a permanent solution and equipment on their land. This agreement would also give the council access rights to the site. Warrington will now finalise the plans and come forward with detailed cost estimates.

But Halton Council said there are other tasks that need to be carried out in order for the proposed solution to work. It was made clear to those at the meeting that the amount of water that will be able to be drawn into the canal will be less than previously, when it was pumped in via the power station.

The canal will therefore need to be made more watertight than it was before, and funding will have to be found to do undertake the necessary work. Halton Council said a 'significant section' of the canal at the rear of the power station also poses a challenge as it has been colonised with reeds that impede water flow.

To address these issues a technical working group will be brought together overseen by Warrington Chief Executive Professor Steven Broomhead and Halton Chief Executive Stephen Young. Technical officers from both councils will work with other organisations such as Peel Holdings, the Environment Agency and United Utilities.

Cllr Mike Wharton, leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “There is no simple solution to a water supply for the canal in Halton. The canal was not built as two separate entities, it is one canal. Therefore we have to work closely with our partners in Warrington to try to resolve this matter. On the face of it we have a solution but there is more work to be done."

He added: "We are facing considerable budget pressures and, therefore, a clear understanding as to what the ongoing revenue costs are going to be is going to be essential.

"We have already identified £500,000 of funding for the canal but that will not do all of the works that are required, and we will have to explore all of the options with regards to external funding.”