MV Kelly Ltd was found to be removing water from the canal by the Canal and Rivers Trust with the use of a drone and contacted the Environment Agency.
Abstraction of water from a canal up to 20 cubic metres per day requires prior approval by the trust. Anything over that amount requires an additional permit.
In a statement the trust said: “Abstracting water from the canal without the trust’s and the Environment Agency’s permission is illegal. MV Kelly Ltd have now stopped their activities and the water levels in the local area have returned to normal.”
It added canal water can be used in a number of ways from cooling office blocks and data centres to spray irrigation of agricultural crops.
The Environment Agency said it contacted MV Kelly on July 20 after the Canal and Rivers Trust reported a potential illegal abstraction.
The agency said: “Our officer found that MV Kelly had been abstracting water from the canal to supplement mains water in an attempt to suppress dust, but that there was no illegal abstraction as they had been using less than 20 cubic metres a day from the canal, well below the limit requiring an abstraction licence.
It added: “MV Kelly were in fact using mains water, with some canal water to supplement their operations, but they ceased all abstraction on speaking to the CRT.”
MV Kelly said the situation had been triggered by the hot weather which had dried the ground out and led to dust issues and a need to stop it affecting nearby residents.
It said: “Our main concern on site was therefore to ensure that dust control was being managed to appease Cherwell District Council and the residents.
“To deal with this we regretfully abstracted a minimal amount water (nine cubic metres/day) from the canal (in addition to an approved stand pipe) to deal with these ongoing issues to fill a towed bowser with sprinkler attachment.
“Unfortunately, the temporary standpipe on occasion (very hot dry days) was not coping with the quantity needed to dampen down the works areas.”
It added: “We would also confirm that no further abstraction is required/occurred as newly installed water mains are in use.”