Concern over Southwold Boating Lake’s low water level

Water levels at Southwold boating lake are worryingly low, prompting fears the historic site could dry up altogether.

It is not known why water levels at the lake, the adjoining model yacht pond and connected marshland opposite Southwold Pier have dropped so much in recent years, but various parties have now vowed to work together to find a solution.

The boating lake and pond have been major attractions in Southwold for more than 100 years. Historically the shallow lake has been supplied with fresh water from the river Waveney and sea water pumped via an underground pipe. When levels were low due to dry spells in the summer, sea water was used to top it up.

However, the Environment Agency (EA) believes topping up with saline water will harm the flora and fauna.

A spokesman for the EA said: 'The lake is very shallow and suffers from evaporation in summer, especially when there has been a dry spring, which means it needs to be topped up to be suitable for boating over the summer.

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'We've been aware of the problems for a number of years and have been trying to help find a solution.

'We would be happy for the lake to be topped-up, but this would need to be done with freshwater or very dilute seawater. Topping up with pure seawater could cause problems for the freshwater fish and general habitat of Buss Creek.

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'We would be willing to discuss abstraction licensing to try to find a source of fresh water.'

The agency has also suggested that the owner, Waveney District Council, or current tenants arrange for the lake to be surveyed to determine if boating is sustainable.

Pamela and Paul Jackson, who have been running the site for 10 years, said water levels are currently the worst they have ever seen. They have not been able to let boats out on the lake for several months now.

'We're determined to work with everyone else to find a holistic solution,' said Mr Jackson.

'We just want to ensure the boating lake, the model yacht pond and the marshes have a future.'

Mayor of Southwold John Windell believes a combination of factors are responsible. He is worried that the marsh could be lost if water levels to continue to drop. However, it remains unclear which factors, including Waveney District Council's recent sea wall defence work, the culvert installed about 15 years ago to direct fresh water to Southwold's fishing lakes or dry weather, can be blamed for the changes.

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