The task for Derbyshire County Council required Ebsford Environmental to dredge the canal clear of accumulated silt to allow the use of horse-drawn passenger boats to give tours of the historic waterway, set in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Due to the narrowness of the towpath and dense trees and undergrowth on the opposite bank, access was severely limited. Furthermore, heavy plant on the towpath would have damaged the fragile habitat that is home to water voles and other wildlife.
Ebsford Environmental therefore used its amphibious Truxor dredging vehicle to carry out the work from within the canal itself.
“The Truxor uses an on-board pump and Archimedes screw to dredge silt out,” said Ebsford Environmental technical director Mark Prout. “We then pump it into special dewatering bags where the silt de-waters naturally to leave solid material for disposal.”
The pump on the Truxor machine is only capable of pumping a distance of 200m but the access restrictions on this site meant the de-watering bags had to be located in fields at one end of the canal, meaning the silt needed to be pumped up to 1.2km. To achieve this, Ebsford Environmental hired in three 6” Super diesel pumps from Shorflo.
The 6” Super diesel solids-handling pump is quiet, with noise levels at 53dB(A), and its fuel efficiency allowed a running time of 80 hours. “Our pump fed straight into the first Shorflo pump and was then relayed to the other two pumps located at 600m intervals,” said Prout.
The project was overseen by Derbyshire County Council and volunteers from the Friends of the Cromford Canal, whose president is actor Brian Blessed.