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Garstang Town Council issue Lancaster Canal pollution update

Posted on - 2nd August, 2022 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Garstang, Preston News, Tulketh, Wildlife and Conservation, Wyre News
Dead fish found might be because of the hot weather experienced recently pic via Facebook: Stuart Milne
Dead fish found might be because of the hot weather experienced recently pic via Facebook: Stuart Milne

Garstang Town Council has released a statement following the pollution incident in the Lancaster Canal where a number of dead fish were spotted.

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The update states that over the past couple of weeks the Canal and River Trust (CRT) teams have been working hard to minimise the impacts of the pollutant. 

The council statement says the pollution event has massively impacted wildlife and management of the site:

“In terms of actions to manage the impacts on site and to clean the canal of the pollutant, this has been a significant pollution event which has sadly impacted the wildlife along the length of canal throughout Garstang, including within the Marina’s.

Read more: Extreme heat blamed for dead fish in the Lancaster Canal near Preston

Recent improvements in the Lancaster Canal pic via Facebook: Michael Rhodes
Recent improvements in the Lancaster Canal pic via Facebook: Michael Rhodes

“The early impact of the pollution was to lower the dissolved oxygen to a level that could no longer sustain the fishery. Our first response was therefore to send specialist contractors to deploy aeration equipment to improve levels of oxygen within the water. 

“The area of water affected is approximately 1.5km in length and pumping this quantity of water was considered unfeasible.”

Read more: RSPCA issue details on how ducklings were rescued from storm drain

The CRT have been working alongside the Environment Agency (EA) by undertaking activities such as deploying pumps and aerators as wildlife has mainly been affected by the lack of oxygen in the water, the statement continues:

“Pumps and aerators have been deployed at both the front and back end of the polluted section to try and increase oxygen levels in the water and to encourage mixing, which in turn should help dilute the black water and reduce the smell.

“Trust staff have continued this aeration effort as the pollution moved down the canal.  Whilst fish died, this action has no doubt saved a large number of fish. Sadly, we were aware of the dead otters. The wildlife has been mainly affected by the lack of oxygen in the water. This is being managed by a combination of increasing levels of oxygen and encouraging mixing of clean water.

“The Trust have worked with the EA in response to this incident both on the ground and behind the scenes undertaking activities from putting out signage, collecting wildlife that have perished and have implemented a programme of water quality monitoring throughout Garstang.

“This has allowed both the Trust and the EA to predict potential further impacts and implement action as required. The water quality monitoring is showing the location of the areas with the lowest oxygen levels. The aeration is being focused at these sites. The Tithe Barn basin has not been identified, to date, as a focus location.

“This action will continue until we are confident the water chemistry is back to its normal level. The results to date are promising, showing the quality of the water is slowly recovering through natural biological and chemical degradation.

“It looks to be diluting naturally, and the aeration has increased the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. Together with the EA we are monitoring the water quality as it moves. Everything we are doing is to prevent further environmental impact. The Ribble Estuary is a significant distance from the pollution in Garstang.”

Read more: Preston City Council issue warning over giant hogweed

The Environment Agency have already identified the source of the pollution which is agricultural, the team are now building a case for prosecution. People are urged to contact EA directly for more information regarding the investigation.

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