Pollution threat to Midhurst’s South Pond

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  • Volunteers have noticed about four new plants which appear to be dead
  • An oily film has been seen around the plants in the water
  • The South Downs National Park and Environment Agency have been asked to investigate

PECIALISTS have been asked to investigate after the discovery that some of the planting carried out as part of the ambitious South Pond restoration project at Midhurst has died.

South Pond volunteers believe the culprit is pollution, but have so far been unable to trace the source.

The Rev David Coote told fellow town councillors: “Some of the planting in the pond has died and there is evidence of pollution. He said there was an ‘oily film’ on the surface of the water.

Volunteers managing the restoration project at the pond have discussed the issue with Bruce Middleton, from the South Downs National Park Authority who is to carry out some water testing in a small area.

In addition Chichester District Council, which owns the pond is approaching the Environment Agency with a view to further water checks being carried out in a bid to trace the source of the pollution.

Barbara Coote, chairman of the South Pond Group of volunteers which is leading the restoration work at the pond told the Observer: “One plant looked poorly and I assumed it was one which had not taken properly, then when I had another look recently I noticed three or four plants were all going brown and looked unhealthy. I also noticed the water had a slight film on it.”

She added: “It’s not severe, but it is very strange. They are tough plants.”

She said the pollution may have been going on for some time.

“But now we have plants in the pond, we are seeing the effects of whatever it is and we do need to look and see what is causing the problem.”

The restoration work started last year in a bid to create a ‘wildlife haven on the edge of the town centre’.

The South Pond Group raised substantial funding working closely with the national park and Chichester District Council.

Major funding was received from West Sussex County Council through its Operation Watershed scheme.

The work, not yet complete, has involved dredging a deep channel through the centre of the pond and using excess silt to build up shallow areas where there has been extensive planting of aquatic plants and a reed bed.

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