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Why Ipswich and Suffolk ponds need months of rain

PUBLISHED: 07:30 14 September 2019

Joe Underwood, wildlife education ranger for Ipswich Borough Council, at the newly cleaned pond at Stone Lodge Lane Park. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Joe Underwood, wildlife education ranger for Ipswich Borough Council, at the newly cleaned pond at Stone Lodge Lane Park. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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An Ipswich park pond from where fish had to be rescued earlier this summer has been restored to health after being cleaned and having duckweed removed.

The oxygen level was just 8% before the big clean up of Stone Lodge Lane Park pond in Ipswich. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe oxygen level was just 8% before the big clean up of Stone Lodge Lane Park pond in Ipswich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

But the long-term future of Stonelodge Park pond - and others across the region - depends on the weather over the next few months, especially the amount of rain that falls.

Ipswich council ranger Joe Underwood has been working with specialist company Stillwater Management to remove the duckweed from the pond and also to remove nitrates and phosphates that allow the invasive plant to grow.

It cuts off light and starves the water of oxygen - although it is not actually toxic. At the start of last month its growth led to the deaths of many fish in the pond.

Mr Underwood said: "They brought in booms to remove the duckweed and put some magic potion in the water to reduce the chances of it returning - but it is a problem with water like this.

Wildlife are slowly returning to Stone Lodge Lane Park pond after a big clean up to remove duckweed from the surface of the water. Picture: Neil DidsburyWildlife are slowly returning to Stone Lodge Lane Park pond after a big clean up to remove duckweed from the surface of the water. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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"We did lose some of the larger fish but the smaller fish should survive and grow - and visitors have told us that the ducks are returning to the pond."

Rangers have also cleared rubbish and cut back some of the vegetation near the pond - and will be trying to reduce the amount of leaves that blow into it during the autumn.

But Mr Underwood said that in the long term there needed to be much more rain, especially over winter months, to restore the pond and others in the area to good health.

He said: "The groundwater levels are very low and there are areas where we are seeing very low water flows - and that comes through to create problems in ponds like this.

"To really restore balance we need a prolonged wet spell, especially over winter months, so the groundwater levels can be restored."

He is talking to the Environment Agency to see what can be done to help ponds like that at Stonelodge Park - and work will be continuing to try to maintain them, but duckweed is a constant problem in ponds everywhere.

Essex-based Stillwater Management has worked extensively with Ipswich Council to improve its park ponds - earlier in the year it cleared the Round Pond in Christchurch Park and restored the balance there which has made it much more attractive for wildlife.

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