The River Lot is to be deprived of its ‘lifeline’ – access for boats from the Canal de Garonne via a short length of the river Baïse and the free-flowing river Garonne. The ‘Garonne Crossing’, as described in our Practical Navigation page, is to be closed by the operator, the Lot-et-Garonne département, from January 26, 2018. The decision came as a shock to all those who live and work on the navigable river Lot in this lower section, which extends for 75km up to the lock at Saint-Vite. Read our detailed background article on this decision and its likely impacts. To save an annual operating cost of 160 000 euros, the Conseil Départemental de Lot et Garonne (CDLG) risks accelerating the spiral of decline on this delightful waterway, on which it has invested 120 million euros since restoration works began in 1991. The reason for the shortsighted decision is the desperate state of the finances of this département. In this context, the Nouvelle Aquitaine region is contributing 500 000 € to the cost of restoring Saint-Vite lock. Some observers suggest that filling the gap of Saint-Vite lock and Fumel dam, thus opening up 120km of continuous waterway, would create a self-contained destination that could thrive with boats transported by road. Inland Waterways International is nevertheless campaigning for a solution to save the river Lot from its not-so-splendid isolation.

A hard nut to crack: the aging dam and hydropower plant at Fumel (PK 78) (© Pierre Lasvesnes for Euromapping)