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VNF – DTSO / South West Region Users Group meeting - 17-10-22 Toulouse 25 Nov 2022 15:55 #133057

  • Bob Marsland
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Here are the minutes (compete-rendu) of this meeting:

In French:

 
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Bob Marsland
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VNF – DTSO / South West Region Users Group meeting - 17-10-22 Toulouse 25 Nov 2022 15:49 #133056

  • Bob Marsland
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The last post contained information on a different CLU.  Here is the PowerPoint presentation that accords with Simon's excellent report:

In French:

 
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Sorry about the confusion.

Bob
Bob Marsland
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VNF – DTSO / South West Region Users Group meeting - 17-10-22 Toulouse 19 Nov 2022 18:09 #132997

  • Bob Marsland
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Here is the PowerPoint information that accompanied this meeting:
 
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Bob Marsland
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VNF – DTSO / South West Region Users Group meeting - 17-10-22 Toulouse 05 Nov 2022 17:37 #132742

  • Simon Lawson
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Here's the report Doc.
Simon Lawson
"Beatrix"

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VNF – DTSO / South West Region Users Group meeting - 17-10-22 Toulouse 05 Nov 2022 17:35 #132741

  • Simon Lawson
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Hello All,
Here are my notes from the recent meeting in Toulouse. I'll post the minutes when and if I receive them. Doc - attached.

VNF – DTSO Commission Locale des Usagers / South West Region Users Commission
Toulouse – 17/10/22 – Simon Lawson - “Beatrix” for the DBA.


DBA attends these meetings, usually biannual, as “observers” and this was my 4th as DBA rep, but first in person, as during the pandemic they had all been virtual. It was useful to put faces to names, and in general the meeting seemed more conciliatory than previously. I haven’t yet received the minutes, but in the meantime, I set out, below, what I gleaned as the main points of relevance to our members, in the region – Canal du Midi-CDM, Canal de Garonne-CDG (Canal entre deux mers) & Canal de Robine-CDR. Writing from Beatrix in the port of Moissac-CDG for this winter (Castelnaudary-CDM last year).

Data 2022 Season
• CDM had the most traffic, largely of hire boats
• Overall traffic was still 23.6% down on 2019 with less private boats navigating
◦ Commented that this maybe because many people who returned to their boats this year after 2-3 years had so much maintenance to do! This was certainly the case of many that I met, and anecdotally.
◦ The extreme heat this summer may also have led people just to moor up in the shade – where they could find it!
• Hire boats bookings down. Hire company reps suggested this was due to a variety of factors / uncertainties – Ukraine, Fuel Prices etc..
◦ Hire fleets is in poor condition
• Less people are living on boats in France than previously.
• Very low traffic on the Garonne ( some would say that this is an advantage!)

Hydraulic Management
• The season started with good water levels in the main reservoirs. This enabled the network to stay open, unlike most of the rest of France.
◦ CDM boat grouping at locks introduced from 05/07 & CDG from 01/08 CDR had depth restrictions and then closure of the St Lucie Pound.
• VNF are concerned about refilling over this winter.
◦ (There’s been very little rain so far and we have still have daytime highs in the 20Cs 23 on All Saints in Moissac.)
• Competition for water is becoming increasingly conflictual. On the CDM – some lock gates were vandalised by farmers to get water for irrigation. This led to conflicts between boaters and the VNF while the gates were repaired.
◦ We all seemed agreed that there was a need for more transparency about the need for water sharing and balancing competing interests. Possibly briefing the press – so they don’t pour oil on the flames!

Closures / maintenance – 22/23 – As decided last year:
• CDG - Nov / Dec ‘22
• CDM – Jan – Feb. ‘23
• Low season from 14 Nov – On demand weekdays and 2nd weekend November only.
◦ To be requested by email
• Comments: more notice requested about pounds that would be emptied – as this affects the choice of ports and mooring for “hivernage”.
◦ eg. it wasn’t until end August that people heard that Buzet was to be closed, which led to a panic with people trying to get their boats into Moissac, Castelsarrasin and beyond.
• A list of dredging plans was shown – of which the most relevant was C de Robine if the money is forthcoming!
• DTSO now have a depth scanner. This helps identify priority areas for dredging and “nuance” the operation – presumably saving time and money.
• Comments: the plans generally had a good reception particularly the potential opening up of the CDR to Narbonne, and the CDG to Bordeaux for freight.
• Modernisation – continuing – mostly CDM – including:
◦ centralisation and automation of hydraulic management
◦ Remote controls for locks – brick like new remote was passed around. It is usb chargeable and will arm locks at a distance. Possibility of activating 4th sluice for commercials to speed up lock passage
◦ Video surveillance on the CDG
• Tree maintenance – particularly on the ‘jungle stretch” between Agen and Serignac on the CDG. Comments:
◦ Some of this maintenance is a result of reporting by ANPEI (DBA equivalent) members who responded to a reporting system set up by them last year. VNF are reluctant to set up a hotline – email or phone – as it would be “unfiltered”!
◦ There’s a clear need for better communications with users about what is being done and what needs to be done.

Port Projects – didn’t capture much but areas involved include:
• CDG – Fourques, Agen Montech – working with local authorities to improve
• CDM – Castelnaudary – working with Le Boat to release VNF facilities for private boaters including the dry docks in the Grand Basin.
• Ramonville and St Sauveur, Colombiers and others – new types of boats and water activities coming in eg: canoes, electric boats

Turning points
• Study on “historic” turning points – some of which are monuments.
◦ Apparently suggested tearing them up and starting again – this did not go down well with the commercials!!

Conclusions:
• Right at the end there was some discussion about conflict between different interests of canal users. Particularly cyclists and boaters on the towpath.
◦ I appealed to try and find some common ground, as the future of the canal network depends on it. The cycle route runs from Bordeaux to Sete and brings in far more users and revenue to the region than boaters. I sent the plan from DTNE on integrating interests to Alexis Palmier VNF DTSO head of development.
• Overall it was a friendly and much more cooperative than the video meetings I had previously attended. Possibly because a particularly confrontational Hotel operator was not present. But I felt that the VNF were trying harder to listen and communicate – watch this space.

DBA attends these meetings, usually biannual, as “observers” and this was my 4th as DBA rep, but first in person, as during the pandemic they had all been virtual. It was useful to put faces to names, and in general the meeting seemed more conciliatory than previously. I haven’t yet received the minutes, but in the meantime, I set out, below, what I gleaned as the main points of relevance to our members, in the region – Canal du Midi-CDM, Canal de Garonne-CDG (Canal entre deux mers) & Canal de Robine-CDR. Writing from Beatrix in the port of Moissac-CDG for this winter (Castelnaudary-CDM last year).

Data 2022 Season
• CDM had the most traffic, largely of hire boats
• Overall traffic was still 23.6% down on 2019 with less private boats navigating
◦ Commented that this maybe because many people who returned to their boats this year after 2-3 years had so much maintenance to do! This was certainly the case of many that I met, and anecdotally.
◦ The extreme heat this summer may also have led people just to moor up in the shade – where they could find it!
• Hire boats bookings down. Hire company reps suggested this was due to a variety of factors / uncertainties – Ukraine, Fuel Prices etc..
◦ Hire fleets is in poor condition
• Less people are living on boats in France than previously.
• Very low traffic on the Garonne ( some would say that this is an advantage!)

Hydraulic Management
• The season started with good water levels in the main reservoirs. This enabled the network to stay open, unlike most of the rest of France.
◦ CDM boat grouping at locks introduced from 05/07 & CDG from 01/08 CDR had depth restrictions and then closure of the St Lucie Pound.
• VNF are concerned about refilling over this winter.
◦ (There’s been very little rain so far and we have still have daytime highs in the 20Cs 23 on All Saints in Moissac.)
• Competition for water is becoming increasingly conflictual. On the CDM – some lock gates were vandalised by farmers to get water for irrigation. This led to conflicts between boaters and the VNF while the gates were repaired.
◦ We all seemed agreed that there was a need for more transparency about the need for water sharing and balancing competing interests. Possibly briefing the press – so they don’t pour oil on the flames!

Closures / maintenance – 22/23 – As decided last year:
• CDG - Nov / Dec ‘22
• CDM – Jan – Feb. ‘23
• Low season from 14 Nov – On demand weekdays and 2nd weekend November only.
◦ To be requested by email
• Comments: more notice requested about pounds that would be emptied – as this affects the choice of ports and mooring for “hivernage”.
◦ eg. it wasn’t until end August that people heard that Buzet was to be closed, which led to a panic with people trying to get their boats into Moissac, Castelsarrasin and beyond.
• A list of dredging plans was shown – of which the most relevant was C de Robine if the money is forthcoming!
• DTSO now have a depth scanner. This helps identify priority areas for dredging and “nuance” the operation – presumably saving time and money.
• Comments: the plans generally had a good reception particularly the potential opening up of the CDR to Narbonne, and the CDG to Bordeaux for freight.
• Modernisation – continuing – mostly CDM – including:
◦ centralisation and automation of hydraulic management
◦ Remote controls for locks – brick like new remote was passed around. It is usb chargeable and will arm locks at a distance. Possibility of activating 4th sluice for commercials to speed up lock passage
◦ Video surveillance on the CDG
• Tree maintenance – particularly on the ‘jungle stretch” between Agen and Serignac on the CDG. Comments:
◦ Some of this maintenance is a result of reporting by ANPEI (DBA equivalent) members who responded to a reporting system set up by them last year. VNF are reluctant to set up a hotline – email or phone – as it would be “unfiltered”!
◦ There’s a clear need for better communications with users about what is being done and what needs to be done.

Port Projects – didn’t capture much but areas involved include:
• CDG – Fourques, Agen Montech – working with local authorities to improve
• CDM – Castelnaudary – working with Le Boat to release VNF facilities for private boaters including the dry docks in the Grand Basin.
• Ramonville and St Sauveur, Colombiers and others – new types of boats and water activities coming in eg: canoes, electric boats

Turning points
• Study on “historic” turning points – some of which are monuments.
◦ Apparently suggested tearing them up and starting again – this did not go down well with the commercials!!

Conclusions:
• Right at the end there was some discussion about conflict between different interests of canal users. Particularly cyclists and boaters on the towpath.
◦ I appealed to try and find some common ground, as the future of the canal network depends on it. The cycle route runs from Bordeaux to Sete and brings in far more users and revenue to the region than boaters. I sent the plan from DTNE on integrating interests to Alexis Palmier VNF DTSO head of development.
• Overall it was a friendly and much more cooperative than the video meetings I had previously attended. Possibly because a particularly confrontational Hotel operator was not present. But I felt that the VNF were trying harder to listen and communicate – watch this space.

Simon Lawson - Moissac 5 Nov. 2022
Simon Lawson
"Beatrix"
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