Major work has started to dredge the lake at Harrow Lodge Park to reduce any reoccurrence of deadly toxins devastating the wildfowl community again.
The dredging involves pushing contaminated silt from the bottom of the lake to the northern bank with the aim of cleansing the water in which wildfowl live. Work started last week, Friday (6 February), and is expected to be complete by the end of March in time for nesting season.
In July 2013, hundreds of wildfowl died as a result of a severe bout of botulism. The extreme hot weather and lack of rainfall had a drastic impact on the levels of oxygen in the water, which led to the increase in the water-borne toxins.
At the time, the Council installed one aerator and two windmills to pump oxygen into the lake, which helped significantly. A long-term solution involved dredging to increase the depth of the lake and the amount of water in circulation, making it cooler, cleaner, and allowing the wildfowl to survive hot weather.
The Council allocated £300,000 for the job last April, but waited until the water was at its coldest point to start work. This is because the toxins are less active and the silt can be moved with the minimum amount of harm to the wildfowl in the lake.
“This is the best time of the year to do work like this as it needs to be very cold, the last thing we wanted to do is rush into it and cause more harm because the temperature was wrong,” said Councillor Melvin Wallace, Cabinet Member for Culture and Community Engagement.
The process is expected to move around 6,000 cubic meters of silt, that’s the equivalent of six million litres of water.
Once complete, the north bank of the lake will be fenced off, reshaped and landscaped.
Councillor Wallace added: “This has been an important piece of work that we have wanted to do for a while now, and we’ve waited until the right time. We want to give the wildfowl a better habitat, and this will certainly go a long way towards that.”
The work forms part of the Cleaner Havering campaign, the Council initiative aimed at sprucing up the borough, and making it a place that residents feel proud of.
The silt pusher used for the work is the only one of its kind in the country, and was selected for the task following consultation with the Environment Agency because of the way it gently pushes the silt to cause the least amount of damage for the lake and its wildlife.