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Fish saved after river level sinks

PUBLISHED: 18:47 30 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:15 03 March 2010

A LEISURELY walk by the River Gipping ended for an Ipswich couple, when they began a frantic bid to save endangered fish.

Tony Graham, a retired paint sprayer and his wife Heather, noticed the water level had fallen drastically in the river at the bottom of Riverside Road.

A LEISURELY walk by the River Gipping ended for an Ipswich couple, when they began a frantic bid to save endangered fish.

Tony Graham, a retired paint sprayer and his wife Heather, noticed the water level had fallen drastically in the river at the bottom of Riverside Road.

They became concerned for the safety of the fish at the popular angling spot, near Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate.

Mr Graham of Riverside Road, said: "My main worry was for the beautiful prime fish. It is a very popular spot for fishing, with thousands of mature prize fish."

The river contains most coarse fish.

The concerned Ipswich couple, both in their 50s, spent Christmas Day ringing round trying to alert authorities to the worrying events.

"We went through the phone book, but as it was Christmas Day no one was answering, we eventually got through to the Environment Agency in Peterborough to report this dangerous situation."

The Environment Agency reported the incident to Ipswich Borough Council's flood defence team late on Christmas Day night and sent a team there as soon as possible.

They arrived on Boxing Day morning to save the fish - operatives cannot go out in the middle of the night for safety reasons.

Flood defence spokesman Stuart Barbrook explained what had caused the abrupt drop in water level.

"The automated vertical guillotine sluice gate had been blocked open by an obstruction, causing the water levels to drop by one meter of normal operational levels," he said.

The blockage of the Horseshoe Sluice at the bottom end of the Gipping at a point adjacent to Yarmouth Road released water into the Orwell and would have caused the loss of fish stock.

Mr Barbrook added: " It was a regrettable incident, but there is not a huge amount you can do, as the automated gate became obstructed, we got our guys out there as soon as possible, and they managed to close the gate."

Mr Graham, a keen amateur photographer said " We went to feed the ducks and realised that the river was emptying, so I rushed back for my camera."

If you have any worries about water levels, call the Floodline on 0845 9881188.

Weblink: www.Enviroment-Agency.gov.uk

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