In the last few weeks the club has been dealing with water quality problems resulting in fish losses at our Petersfinger lakes. Despite the aeration equipment now installed we have lost fish in both Clarke’s and Hand’s lakes. The losses are significant and continuing. In addition water quality at Steeple Langford has deteriorated with a confirmed blue green algal bloom which means that contact with the water can be dangerous for both people and animals. It may yet result in further fish losses.
The cause of the losses at Petersfinger and the bloom at Langford are under investigation by the Environment Agency and are not known at this stage but are very likely to be similar to that which have affected other lakes around the south and which we experienced at Steeple Langford two years ago. Put simply toxic substances appear in the water as a result of the breakdown of algal blooms which are aided by weather conditions and excessive nutrients in the water.
These are complex biological problems which are not easily solved but clearly result from the slow development of lakes towards an algae based ecology helped by excessive nutrient from silts, ground water, introduced material such as bait, from other diffuse sources and the changing structure of our fish populations. Many will remember that our lakes at one time had much more weed and that sort of plant based ecology is where we need to be.
This is a known phenomenon and a great many maturing lakes experience this drift towards a higher risk environment for fish. A plant based ecology in the lakes is much more likely to be sustainable and much more likely to avoid problems of toxicity.
We are currently completing improvements at Dandy’s lake designed to that end and we have been successful in obtaining EA funding for similar works at the little lake at Langford. We will need to follow these processes through at all our lakes in the medium and long term. Extensive work will be required to re-establish plants and fish populations will need to be carefully managed to avoid the risks that are made worse by those fish species that dig and churn up the lake beds. A committee sub-group will be working to understand the EA findings as they emerge and overseeing the implementation of a recovery plan.
It is not possible to say at this stage how these problems will develop but members should be aware that it is highly likely that we will not be opening the Petersfinger and Steeple Langford sites at the start of the new coarse season. We will be producing updates for members as we go through the necessary processes towards recovery.
Updates will be posted here and on the Members Forum