While the land where Canvey Lake is situated is owned by Castle Point Borough Council, it is leased to Canvey Town Council, so they are responsible for the running of the Lake and while also working with the Environment Agency, as Canvey Lake acts as an important part of the flood relief measures.
A number of residents have been in contact about Canvey Lake and Rebecca has been in contact with the Environment Agency and Canvey Town Council about these issues. Because of the hot weather, lakes across the country are having similar problems- drying up due to the extreme weather conditions and no rainfall. The fire service has also assisted with the aeration of Canvey Lake. Rebecca has also spoken to local businessman Rob Turner who runs Kings Park, has been setting up aeration units in the Lake.
"I want to thank Rob Turner and the other community members who have been working on saving our wildlife. It is clear there needs to be a long-term solution to the problems at Canvey Lake- to this end I have been speaking to all organisations involved and helped set up Multi-Agency meetings so we can make sure we are all working together for the improvement of the Lake. The deceased animals are being cleared on a daily basis and as quickly as possible. While I understand that the sight of dead wildlife is distressing, people should not take out their frustrations on the hard-working staff from the Council or the Environment Agency. I will continue to liaise with the agencies and provide updates to residents." REBECCA HARRIS MP (16/08/22)
The Environment Agency:
"Recently we have been supporting Canvey Town Council who run the lake, by providing mechanical aeration to help increase oxygen levels. Our Fisheries Officers have been giving advice and guidance to the council and have supplied some informative posters to help communicate the impacts of dry weather with the local community. Environment Agency Officers have also inspected Canvey Lake a number of times recently and believe that the water quality is being affected by an algal bloom. Algal blooms occur naturally but can have a greater impact during long periods of hot, dry weather. Increased algal activity during a bloom can affect the dissolved oxygen concentrations available to support fish and aquatic life, as well as increasing the alkalinity of the water which can, in turn, increase the toxicity of other naturally occurring substances. We have spent considerable resources since at least 2012 supporting Canvey Town Council with the management of the lake, and will be in touch with them very soon to advise them of the importance of having a long-term plan for the future management of their amenity." ENVIRONMENT AGENCY OFFICIAL STATEMENT (11/08/22)
Canvey Town Council
"Canvey Island Town Council have been working closely with multiple organisations, including the Environment Agency, DEFRA and CEFAS, regarding the number of issues that Canvey Lake has experienced this year.
Whilst the Town Council does take the responsibility of the lake, along with the wildlife, seriously, the impact of the environmental issues there have made this an arduous task. The low water level has exacerbated the poor water quality, which is difficult to control due to Canvey Lake being used by the Environment Agency to assist with flooding issues and the repository for water taken from the storm drains. Canvey Lake contains extremely high silt levels, the removal of the silt has previously been investigated both in 2012 and lastly in 2017 by a multi-agency group run by Castle Point Borough Council including all relevant agencies involved in the lake, and due to the unachievable costs involved in this task, and that it would reoccur due to the nature of the lake it was not deemed a viable option.
It is distressing to see the effect this has had to the fish and wildfowl and whilst we do have contractors there daily to remove the deceased animals, we are battling with the constantly emerging numbers which are due to the dead animals inflating with gases and rising to the surface. The animals that are removed must be disposed of by an approved method for disposal of Category 2 animal-by-product waste to ensure it complies with local Environmental Health department regulations.
Each year the Town Council makes important decisions regarding how the precept that has been paid by residents of Canvey Island is used. Just above 1% of the amount of council tax each household pays is received by the Town Council, this equates to £21.87 annually for a Band D property. From this money the Town Council allocates nearly 15% (£38,220) to the maintenance and running of Canvey Lake. In this financial year the Town Council have already allocated £31,515 to the maintenance of Canvey Lake. The Town Council are transparent with how it manages its finances, and our budgets are available to be viewed on our website. Further information regarding our finances can be requested by any resident.
The Town Council will continue to work on the issues faced daily and is endeavouring to find a long-term resolution. The Town Council are thankful for the strong community spirit that has once again been displayed by the residents of Canvey Island and hope that Canvey Lake will be able to return to the wildlife facility we are so fortunate to have in an urban area." CANVEY TOWN COUNCIL OFFICIAL STATEMENT (16/08/22)
Rob Turner's GO FUND ME PAGE: " This crowdfunding is aimed at delivering 2 things.
1. A permanent solution to the lack of oxygen in the water, caused by weather, and poor physical conditions.
2. A working group set up to help support and develop a management plan for the lake, with council support.
I have started the process of Stage 1. We ( Cove UK ) have pre-funded the first aeration unit. This work will commence tomorrow (13th August) to prevent the upcoming storm from killing more wildlife. This initial outlay equates to around £2,500 and I am covering this cost upfront.
We need to try and raise enough money to fund the 2 aeration units and provide some funding for the running / maintenance costs. The lake is so substantial, that it could easily require 4 or 5 units. but we need to be realistic and the depth of water does not allow high-end, high-volume units to be placed in the lake.
The system I have selected is designed for shallow water.
Any surplus funds that are raised would be either passed over to an independent group formed by the local community if that could be established, or donated to a charity of your choosing ( we will offer by public vote ). it's important we are clear that we will not retain any surplus funds...."
January 2023 Update from Canvey Town Council
Humane removal of fish from Canvey Lake: Following the heatwave in 2022, which saw thousands of fish die at locations across the UK and had a devastating impact on the fish in Canvey Lake, the Town Council met with organisations including the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex County Council and Castle Point Borough Castle with a view to improving fish welfare. After reviewing all options, it was decided the most humane course of action would be to remove a large quantity of fish from the lake and temporarily suspend fishing to allow the ecosystem to recover.
The decision has been taken on the advice of environmental experts to remove a substantial quantity of fish stock from Canvey Lake for their own welfare and to help improve the ecology and biodiversity of the area. The fish will be moved into isolation ponds by a specialist contractor under the supervision of The Environment Agency where they will be allowed to live out the rest of their natural lives. All fishing will also be suspended at the lake until further notice to help it to recover from the damage caused by last summer’s extreme heat. Apart from the removal of fishing rights, the lake will remain open to the people of Canvey.
Over the last few years and due to the impact of Climate change we have seen an increase in extreme heat, the lack of rainfall and the shallow nature of the lake causing excess evaporation and algal bloom'. This results in reduced oxygen levels, and more concentrated toxins such as ammonia, in the water and in turn leads to the death of fish, water birds and other wildlife. Many fish in the lake also suffer from Koi herpesvirus (KHV). While KHV poses no risk to human health, it causes serious skin lesions in some fish and can lead to large scale mortality.
Canvey Island Town Mayor, Cllr Doreen Anderson, said: “We know that Canvey Lake is a valued open space for the community and popular with fishermen, but the reality is it is not a fishery or an ornamental lake. It is a surface water run off tank, designed to take water from the surrounding roads, and as such is very polluted. “With less rainfall and warmer summers, we know that what happened in 2022 will happen again,” continued Cllr Anderson “Unless something changes, we will keep repeating this cycle and so cannot allow such a large fish population to exist in the lake.”
The Council will be looking to work with Thames 21 and other environmental organisations to review other ecological interventions to help improve water quality and hold a public consultation to review a future plan for the lake.