Brief window to clear silt from St Albans’ dirty lake

Verulamium lake aerial view.

Verulamium lake aerial view. - Credit: Archant

A rare opportunity has arisen to easily remove silt from St Albans’ polluted Verulamium Lake.

A rare opportunity has arisen to easily remove silt from St Albans’ polluted Verulamium Lake.

One of the artificial ponds in Verulamium Park has dried up completely in the mild weather and St Albans district council (SADC) is looking to remove some of the troublesome muck while it is accessible.

The council is currently asking for quotes for the work, but if it rains and refills before arrangements are finalised the opportunity will be lost.

Head of community services for SADC, Debbi White, said: “We are investigating the most efficient and cost-effective method for removing the silt and disposing of it.

“This will be a challenging, complex and expensive operation and we will be inviting quotes for the work.

“If the silt removal is feasible and we are able to finance it, then we will go ahead.”

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But she stressed it will only be a short-term improvement to ongoing problems, such as “a slow and irregular intake of fresh water from the River Ver”.

“We are working with several partners including the Environment Agency, Affinity Water and Herts county council’s countryside management services on finding a long-term solution.

“A report on the available options, such as returning the River Ver to its natural state, will be available next year.”

Landlord Christo Tofalli of nearby pub Ye Olde Fighting Cocks said: “I think it’s fantastic, I am really happy that they are looking at it.

“I do commend them for talking about it but I must be firm about this, it is a simple process, you get a machine and you get the silt out, it’s not difficult.

“This has been years in the making - at best, it’s been mismanaged. I am sceptical and disappointed they are not talking about action.

“The fact is they are going to have to spend some money because they can’t go on like this, it’s a health risk for humans.”

Verulamium Lake has been plagued with problems for years, culminating in a spate of avian botulism in summer 2015.

Silt made up of bird poo, leaves, and natural material has built up in the water for decades and ineffective sluice gates and stagnant water has exasperated the issue.

It means the lake can be a hostile area for wildlife, with low oxygen levels and algal blooms.