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Wanstead Park beauty spot ponds suffer in heatwave

PUBLISHED: 07:19 09 August 2018

The Ornamental Waters, Wanstead Park, are drying up during the summer heatwave. Photo: Dave Gordon

The Ornamental Waters, Wanstead Park, are drying up during the summer heatwave. Photo: Dave Gordon

Dave Art Gordon

Ponds at a former beauty spot in Wanstead have started to dry up as a result of the heatwave.

The dry bed of the Ornamental Waters, Wanstead Park, is cracking up. Photo: Dave GordonThe dry bed of the Ornamental Waters, Wanstead Park, is cracking up. Photo: Dave Gordon

The Ornamental Water in Wanstead were once a popular fishing spot. Large carp were caught there as recently as last month.

But Dave Gordon, 51, took photos of the site, saying: “Lots of people are concerned about the state of the Ornamental Water.

“Over the years there has been a seeming lack of investment in the maintenance of the lake and the water could be in a lot better state, it really seems just to have been left.

“It’s pretty now, but it’s not what it was. It’s very sad, it was a beautiful spot.”

The Ornamental Waters were once a popular fishing spot. Photo: Dave GordonThe Ornamental Waters were once a popular fishing spot. Photo: Dave Gordon

The ponds are in a cascade, one above the other and water runs between them.

In this dry spell authorities have stopped the water running from the top pond into the bottom one, to try to maintain water levels.

Mr Gordon added: “I have heard accounts of this water being a good place to fish in the past, but one resident after returning to the area some 30 years on was shocked to see the change and what he considered a huge decline in the water’s state of appearance and maintenance.

“The water levels can be extremely low even during much cooler wetter summers. I think it’s obvious to most people that know the area that it’s probably the lack of maintenance and investment that is causing the problem to be far worse than it could be.”

The Ornamental Water, Wanstead Park, is drying up during the summer heatwave. Photo: Dave GordonThe Ornamental Water, Wanstead Park, is drying up during the summer heatwave. Photo: Dave Gordon

Mr Gordon believes the solution is more investment in the area.

He said: “It’s really not been managed properly. People feel like they’ve been ignored for years about the decline of the Ornamental Water.

“It’s been allowed to silt up, it’s very dry and that’s opened up the islands for people to walk across to them, which they shouldn’t be doing. Luckily it’s after the birds have nested but still.”

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: “We are doing everything possible to maintain water levels at Wanstead Park during this challenging heatwave.

“Consistently high temperatures and a lengthy lack of rainfall are contributing to falling water levels in lakes and ponds across England, including Wanstead Park.

“We are working closely with the local community and investing in enhancements to the site. This includes remodelling entrances, improving views around the ponds and Chalet Wood, repairing The Grotto ruins, installing new picnic tables and fitting new water pumping equipment to improve water levels.

“In the longer term the registered park’s four landowners, Historic England and the Friends of Wanstead Parklands are working on a plan that will address water conservation within the 300-year-old lake system; the safety of the dams and the park’s Grade II* Heritage Landscape.”

The Environment Agency reported that June was one of the driest since records began and July is likely to have been equally dry.

Since May 2017, the City of London Corporation says it has been pumping 288,000 litres of water a day from the chalk aquifer 88 metres beneath London to try to maintain lake water levels in Ornamental Water, Perch and Heronry Ponds.

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