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Spinnaker Sailing Club   – Weed Management Update

Members of the club recently met with representatives of Wessex Water (who own our lake), Natural England (who need to give permission for any actions that may affect the ecology of the lake given its SSSI status) and other stakeholders including Christchurch Angling and NFDS.

The aim of the meeting was to agree to a Weed Management Plan.

The lake has two dominant types of weed: (a) Hornwort and (b) Nuttall’s Pond Weed. For many years Hornwort has been present in the lake. Typically, this is seen floating as single strands which are a nuisance when racing but does not stop people sailing. However, increasingly – and particularly over the last two years – we have seen a large growth of Nuttall’s pondweed. This grows from the bottom of the lake and by September forms large clumps of weed floating near the surface. It is this weed that we aim to manage.

The lake is very rich in nutrients. The concern from Wessex and Natural England is that if the amount of weed in the lake is significantly reduced then, given the number of nutrients in the lake, there is a possibility that during the warmer weather we will have large algae blooms. Once the ecology of a lake changes to be algae-based, we are told that it stays that way. Furthermore, some forms of algae are toxic which is bad news for sailors and wildlife.

The conclusion from the meeting was that during this summer Wessex will conduct a trial where the weed is cut over a limited area of the lake and the results monitored to both assess the effectiveness of the cutting process and its effect on the ecology of the lake. Wessex will be organising the trial and paying for it. Details of what area will be cut, when it will be cut, how the effect will be monitored and where the cut weed will be composted after its removal from the lake, are still being discussed.

If this trial is successful a more comprehensive plan will be agreed for the following years.

The rate of growth of the weed is affected by a number of variables such as water temperature. It is, of course, possible that this year the amount of weed in the lake will be different.

If you have any questions about this subject please email them to Genevieve at admin and I will contact you.

Dick Meredith