Little of this would have happened without the efforts of the Waterways Trust, which was formed in 1999 to attract funding for the conservation and restoration of waterways.
The trust has managed to fundraise so effectively by forming partnerships and selling the wider benefits of canals to conservationists, heritage enthusiasts and small businesses as well as waterway users.
Th trust's communications manager Antony Tiornan said: "A lot of people do believe in canals but we have to show them we can deliver a lot more than boating.
"We have to show that canals are not just about white, middle-class boaters but about a whole raft of economic and social benefits ranging from walking, cycling and canoeing to pubs and museums,
For one scheme, the trust raised £1 million by launching an appeal in partnership with the Inland Waterways Association, British Waterways and the Friends of Anderton Boat Lift. In another scheme, it formed a new organisation, the James Brindley Society, in memory of the canal pioneer, and charged a £260 membership fee.
The Waterways Trust has also benefited from the Government's Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, which enables rubbish dumpers to avoid paying tax by investing in environmental projects.
In three years, the trust has facilitated £45 million in investment and will be one of the main contributors to the £500 million, alongside groups including the navigation authority British Waterways, the National Lottery and the Government.
"We have got to the point where we feel confident the public are going to back waterways. Of the nine restoration projects over the next 10 years, at least four would not be possible without the financial support of the Waterways Trust,