Dredging operation at lake could cost £50,000

Newent Town Council could face a bill of £50,000 for dredging Newent Lake next year.

The lake, a popular local beauty spot, is down to just one foot in depth in some places.

The mayor of Newent, Coun Fred Passant, said grants from various bodies would be essential to finance the work.

A final decision on whether or not to go ahead will be taken this winter, when councillors can assess lessons from this summer.

Coun Passant said: "Overall, the problem is there is too much sludge in the lake. We have just got a report back from contractors who have done a site study on issues such as water depth, and have come back with recommendations."

One recommendation is dredging, but Coun Passant said: "It's some way off yet."

If the dredging takes place, it will be the second such operation on the lake in less than a decade.

Six years ago, the army carried out a major operation dredging there. The town council still has a video of the work in progress.

Not all the lake is shallow. In some places the depth is around six feet and fish life, including the extensive carp shoals, appear to be thriving.

But last summer, the Environment Agency asked the town council to switch off the Golden Jubilee Fountain amid fears of severe oxygen depletion in the water due to hot weather. Despite fears of fish deaths, however, none appear to have occurred.

Instead of hiring an aerator, which happened last year, the town council has bought its own at a cost of £1,905.

This is switched on every night to keep up the oxygen levels.

In addition, to tackle an algal bloom problem, the council has introduced special micro-organisms which feed on food materials that the algae also depend on.

Coun Passant said that, as during last summer, the lake's oxygen levels were being monitored continuously.