A study group set up after the controversy over lock staffing on the non-tidal Thames was meeting for the first time this week (July 30th).
It follows plans announced last year to cut the number of residential lock-keepers and lease up to nine lock-side houses.
Protests from river users followed and concerns were raised in Parliament.
It led to a high-level meeting between the Thames Users’ Group and Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith.
As a result it was decided to let just five houses on a trial basis and but designate a full-time lock keeper, although not in residence, at the locks concerned.
The study group is jointly chaired by Simon Hughes from the Environment Agency and Michael Shefras of the Users’ Group.
It has a wider brief than merely the lock plans and covers the future sustainability of the river.
An EA statement said: “The group will examine aspects of the management and operation of our lock sites, comparing those with resident lock and weir keepers against those without. Lord Smith has capped the letting of vacant lock houses to five, until further notice. ”
The first meeting was held July 30th and there will be three more before a report to Lord Smith in April 2013.