Lea Marston lakes were created in the 1980s to collect contaminated sediment flowing down the River Tame from Birmingham and Minworth sewage treatment works. An automatic trash screen was built to collect logs and other debris to protect the equipment used to remove the contaminated sediment. It was never installed to protect people from flooding.
Over the last 30 years water quality in the River Tame has improved dramatically, and for over 15 years there has been no need to clear the sediment. This has meant that the lakes have become a wildlife haven for birds and other animals.
The trash screen costs over £200,000 each year to run and maintain and it has now got to the end of its design life. So, as it is not providing any environmental benefit and it’s not reducing flood risk, the Environment Agency are planning to decommission it.
This will lead to further improvements in water quality; logs and other natural debris are good for healthy rivers as they create natural shallows and deep areas which is really good for fish and aquatic life.
Neil Lote, from the Environment Agency said:
We’re really pleased to see the work we’ve been doing to improve river water quality have such wide benefits. The screen isn’t reducing flood risk, and is actually acting as a barrier to further environmental improvements to the lakes and the river, so it makes sense to remove it.
After the Environment Agency remove the screen, they will be able to take more accurate measurements of water levels so their flood alerts and warnings will be more accurate as the water level won’t be artificially altered by the screen.
The Environment Agency will closely monitor the lakes and the River Tame before they totally remove the screen to make sure the river is flowing as their expert assessments have shown.