Silt and weeds exposed in St Albans Verulamium Lake because of low River Ver water levels

PUBLISHED: 12:06 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:06 25 July 2019

The current state of Verulamium Lake - silt and weeds have been exposed by very low water levels in the River Ver. Picture: Hillary  Childs

The current state of Verulamium Lake - silt and weeds have been exposed by very low water levels in the River Ver. Picture: Hillary Childs

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Years of silt build up and weed growth have been exposed in St Albans' problematic Verulamium Lake because so little water is flowing in the River Ver.

St Albans district council (SADC) contractors have been trying to rake up plants covering the lake water, which is connected to the Ver chalk stream, but the tactic is proving ineffective.

Recent discussions on social media have highlighted issues with the lake, which has been plagued with difficulties in recent years.

For example, more than 100 ducks died of avian botulism in 2015 after a lack of flow from the River Ver meant duck faeces, leaves, and natural material built up in the water and bacteria thrived.

This comes as former The Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey condemned water loss from historic chalk beds in Welwyn Garden City and St Albans, including the River Ver.

Feargal got involved with the cause of protecting Herts' chalk beds from his time spent angling for fish.

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The Derry-native said: "It's dried up to a ditch. Nothing has been done for 30 years on this issue and now the beds are in a terrible state."

He lays the blame squarely at the doors of the Environment Agency (EA).

The EA says it has "slashed the amount of water that water companies take from six chalk streams in the area north of London by over 40 million litres a day" since 2016.

Adding: "This is not as easy as turning off the taps. Replacing the water that comes from chalk streams is highly complex and has to be done in a way that balances the environment with the needs of consumers and maintaining public supply."

SADC is currently working with EA, Affinity Water and Herts county council's countryside management services to restore the River Ver as part of the multi-million pound project Revitalising the RiVer.

Proposals include reducing Verulamium Lake by a third to make room for a new stream flowing through the park.

Head of community services at SADC, Joe Tavernier, said: "Unfortunately Verulamium Park lakes, which were manmade in the 1930s, are currently affected by the very low water levels in the River Ver.

"Aquatic weed growth, common in lakes, is currently visible and collecting in corners. Our contractor John O'Conner is raking up the weed regularly, and we are looking into other ways to help improve collection."

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