Last edited 19 Jul 2021



Taken from Saxon Shore way, this view over the Strait of Dover includes the French coast near Calais, which is visible in the distance.


[edit] Introduction

The International Levee Handbook, published by CIRIA in 2013, defines a waterway as: ‘A navigable channel.’

[edit] History

The use of waterways as a navigational tool goes back to prehistoric times. They were essential for the transport of people and goods, and the development of early civilisations depended on waterways for military purposes.

It is believed that the Ancient Egyptians were the first civilisation to use maritime vessels, followed by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.

During the Industrial Revolution, artificial waterways in the United Kingdom were an essential part of the country’s commercial development. The canal network supported the growth of wealth and industry during the Victorian era and served to finance the rise of the British Empire.

[edit] Navigability

There are many different types of waterways that are navigable. This can include oceans, seas, canals, estuaries, lakes, some streams, rivers, creeks, gullies, washes and so on.

Waterways can be defined as being navigable based on a range of factors:

  • Depth. Must be suitable for designated vessels.
  • Width. Must have sufficient width to accommodate the beam of approved waterway traffic.
  • Accessibility. Must not have obstructions or obstacles that could impede access.
  • Current. The natural current of the waterway must not hinder the flow of traffic.
  • Wave crest. The average height of waves must not be hazardous to vessels.

In the United States, the definition of the term 'navigable' is dictated by U.S. law. Navigable waterways are used for commercial purposes and are solely meant to transport people and goods. Their oversight is handled by the federal government which can dictate every aspect of navigable waterway usage. This includes who uses the waterways, how the waterways are used and if (and when) the waterways need to be altered.

[edit] Maritime waterways

There are maritime shipping routes (also referred to as sea lanes, sea roads, sea routes or shipping lanes) for large seagoing ships. Oceans, seas and large lakes are the most common types of maritime waterways.

Maritime waterways are generally served by seaports that are sometimes situated inland but are positioned in such a way as to make it possible for large vessels to access them.

The Strait of Dover between the UK and France is the busiest maritime waterway in the world.

[edit] Inland waterways

In 1953, The European Conference of Ministers of Transport established a classification of inland waterways that has been modified to address the development of push-towing. Inland waterways may also be referred to as inland water transport (IWT) systems.

Natural inland waterways include rivers, streams, small lakes and so on. Artificially made inland waterways include canals, locks and navigable aqueducts.

Inland waterways have some disadvantages:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again