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Protect Our Waterways

A major campaign to #ProtectOurWaterways

Our waterways are under threat.

We are deeply concerned about the threats to our waterways posed by funding cuts, climate change, lack of maintenance, declining usage by boats, pollution, loss of heritage, inappropriate development and more. Of these the most pressing need is to secure adequate funding. Ongoing funding is critical if we are to save the waterways not only for today, but for the future too.  We are therefore calling on the Government to invest in canals and rivers to ensure they remain valuable assets.

About the Campaign

IWA launched the #ProtectOurWaterways campaign in March 2023, with an initial focus on raising awareness about the threats to our waterways and protecting canals and rivers from funding cuts.

History tells us that without boats travelling along them, waterways silt up and become dirty rubbish tips. Without adequate funding for maintenance reservoirs, aqueducts, and embankments will deteriorate, putting communities at increasing risk of water damage from a failing infrastructure. The added threat of climate change will only worsen the situation as severe flooding and breaches become more commonplace.

The waterways of today would not exist without the Inland Waterways Association and the work of our dedicated members and volunteers who, over many years, ensured that canals and rivers were saved and enhanced. The scale of the threat to our waterways from inadequate funding demands that we combine our resources with those of organisations of all types from within and beyond the waterways sector. We have therefore joined with over 100 partner organisations in the #FundBritainsWaterways action group. Delivering the funding strand of #ProtectOurWaterways through #FundBritainsWaterways is our number one campaigning priority for now.  Further strands of the #ProtectOurWaterways campaign will follow.

IWA is playing a leading role on the steering group of #FundBritainsWaterways and we will not let the waterways network fall into disrepair again, but we need your support. With your help, and the support of the many waterways users and enthusiasts across the country, our canals and rivers may stand a chance of securing the investment they need.

Why we need to take action

It is vital that we act now to #FundBritainsWaterways. Canals and rivers are valuable assets which contribute to the country’s economic recovery, as highlighted by our Waterways for Today report which can be downloaded here. The report outlines the 12 most significant benefits that the inland waterways provide including:


How you can help

Subscribe to campaign updates

Register to receive regular updates about the #FundBritainsWaterways campaign via email or contact [email protected] for more information.

Submit your photos

Share photos with us highlighting the state of the waterways by emailing them to [email protected]


Donate to help fund IWA’s campaigns for the inland waterways.

Lobby your MP

Lobby your MP and encourage them to secure funding for canals and rivers in your local area.

Support our vision for the waterways

Who we are

The Inland Waterways Association is a membership charity that works to protect and restore the country’s 7,000 miles of canals and rivers.

We are passionate about protecting and restoring Britain’s waterways for everyone to enjoy.

The inland waterways are special outdoor places – sometimes tranquil and sometimes bustling – whose unique landscape, heritage and habitats are under threat from many pressures, not least inadequate Government support.

What we do
  • We are the only national charity that campaigns locally and nationally for all the country’s canals and river navigations
  • We provide leadership, resources and practical support for the waterway restoration sector
  • We lobby parliament, champion regeneration, run events, and fight to improve the waterways for all legitimate users
  • We are the navigation authority for the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in Essex; we know how to run a waterway
  • Our Waterway Recovery Group undertakes civil engineering works and provides practical support across the country
  • Our  local branches provide support to waterways in their communities, and a social network for our members
  • Our national committees and panels provide expertise and guidance across the sector
Only IWA

Only IWA does all this, and more.

Our members are waterways-lovers from all walks of life who want to preserve and improve the network for future generations.

If you love the waterways, then join us.