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Lower C&O Canal - Which Sections are Water...
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CCA Letter to the C&O Park Asking for Notice of Water-Level Changes - Nov 17, 2019

 I'm writing again to inquire about how we get the word out to paddlers about changes in the level in the Georgetown Reach/ Level 4 of the Canal.  Users of that section reported that it had gone down precipitously and was nearly non-navigable (was 26 inches on Oct 27 - now 6 inches). I went down the towpath by bike on the 9th and found the waste weir at Foundry Branch (Mile 1.52) is letting all the water out the side. This was for the authorities to remove a small tree fallen into the Canal at 31st Street in Georgetown.    

  The Potomac's level at Little Falls is now down at 3.0 feet, so we're back on that popular rapid (yes, we paddle in these conditions).  And so it would be nice if we could warn paddlers on the Paddle Prattle forum that the way back up the Canal is problematical.  On the NHP website, one finds no indication that anything is amiss with the water level. What one sees is:

at "Alerts in Effect" - Lock 3 & 4 - simply photos of past construction.

and at "Current Conditions" - - - drilling down past Locks 4-5, at the bottom of the webpage one comes to "Water levels in the Lower Sections of the Canal" - where it states that if the Feeder Canal is open, then water levels are sufficient for boating.

As mentioned above, although the Brookmont feeder is open, we know that all the water is running out the side of the canal at Foundry Branch.

  May we suggest the following:

1 - At "Alerts" please include info about regularly watered sections of the canal being non-navigable, and if possible why, and when restoration is likely.

2 - At the top of "Current Conditions" put "for Water Levels please look at the bottom of this page."

3 - At that point place correct information (i.e., not about a feeder gate's being open, but that the canal section below is actually watered.)

4 - When levels are changed in the Canal, please send notice to so we can inform the paddling community through Paddle Prattle, the DC area boaters' online open forum.  

For our part, we won't be shy in notifying you when the Canal is low.

Many thanks for your labors which enable paddling this wonderful local resource.

Alford Cooley 

Access Committee

Canoe Cruisers Association


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