Mum calls for ‘foul’ Verulamium Lake to be cleaned by council

Verulamium Lake.

Verulamium Lake. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans mum has called for improved cleanliness at Verulamium Lake after her son was sucked down into the mud.


Oscar. - Credit: Archant

Shirani, Oscar’s mum, told the Herts Ad about the incident: “The children were playing by the little river section by Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. They started playing chase and we were waiting for them around the area where they had been playing, and then one of them came running saying ‘Oscar’s fallen in the lake’.

“They had just been standing chatting around the edge of the lake, near the Fighting Cocks, when he stumbled. He couldn’t really see the clear delineation between the path and the lake so he thought he was stepping onto solid mud and then it just sucked him down.

“One of the mothers I was with said her dogs had fallen in there and its very deep. I’m sure it’s just an acclimation of avian excrement - it’s just foul. He absolutely reeked. Everything he touched, like the inside of the car, reeked afterwards.

“The muck was coming out of his nose and his mouth.”

The part of the lake where Oscar fell in.

The part of the lake where Oscar fell in. - Credit: Archant

“He was very, very shaken,” Shirani added. “I’m not sure at 10 years old he realised it could very easily have been fatal. Certainly with fewer people around if a member of the public hadn’t gone to help him immediately in the time it took for his friend to come and get me Oscar could have drowned or been suffocated.

“I think the edge of the lake needs to be clearly defined. It runs from the path level and goes straight into the lake. “All that mud has got to be cleared out. I know it’s supposed to be a natural lake but its a stagnant piece of water. I think the council does have a responsibility to clear it up.”

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Verulamium Park’s artificial lakes have become heavily silted, reducing the water quality and causing blooms of algae in the summer.

A multi-million pound project was launched in March as part of the council’s ongoing efforts to improve the cleanliness of both the lakes and the River Ver, working alongside the Environment Agency.

To freshen the water, there will be a slight increase to the flow into the lake from the river, and planting around the borders will discourage excessive numbers of Canada geese, whose droppings are partly responsible for the poor water quality.

Verulamium Lake has been subject to controversy since an outbreak of avian botulism among the lake’s geese in 2015, which was caused by diseased silt which built up and poisoned the water.