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Restoring waterways transforms communities

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Over the last 75 years – since IWA was formed – more than 500 miles of waterway have been restored; but there are over 500 miles of waterway yet to restore.

Canal restorations bring benefits at every stage

They can act as a trigger for regeneration, attracting visitors and investment to the area. Businesses enjoy the new waterside developments and jobs are created. Flat paths alongside the re-built canals offer perfect leisure activity conditions for walking, jogging and fishing.

Overall, the waterways instill a renewed feeling of pride and community amongst the local population.

We lead, support & champion restoration

We have a long and successful history of leading and supporting restoration – championing restoration at every level of government and offering expert engineering, planning and fundraising advice.

Our Waterway Recovery Group helps restore waterways by running week-long working holidays and weekend digs on restoration sites, as well as by providing training for restoration volunteers.

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How you can help

Your support gives restorations across the country access to our experts, our teams of enthusiastic volunteers and helps us make the case for restoration to all levels of government. Or why not find out how you can get involved?

Print and share

Waterways in Progress is a resource for restoration trusts and societies and other volunteer groups to promote the importance of canal restoration and the regeneration benefits delivered for communities up and down the country. The report has been published to share with local government, developers, planners and other stakeholder groups to highlight the value of canal restoration.


Read our report on the untapped potential of unfinished restorations.

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38,976 hrs

Volunteer graft

Our Waterway Recovery Group volunteers spent over 3,700 days in 2019 working on restoration sites across the country.


Value added by volunteers

Each year, Waterway Recovery Group volunteers add tremondous value to canal restorations, such as the £252,900 in 2019.

41 weekends

Canal Camps

Waterway Recovery Group’s weekend groups spent 41 weekends out digging canals in 2019.

Restoration News

Restoration schemes are not just a means to an end; they have a life of their own and can bring quantifiable benefits at every stage

David Suchet

Waterways under restoration

Restoration Case Studies

Campaign updates

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Waterway businesses

The government needs to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy and what could be a core element of the British stay-at-home leisure and holiday sectors in the coming years.

Waterways affected by HS2

We’re campaigning to protect canals and rivers from the damaging effects of HS2, especially where the tranquillity of the waterways is under threat.