January To December 2008

With the pond now clear and a very low water level, it became a fairly regular practice to run the trash pump during the work on the pond to keep taking out any accumulated water. All had gone well to date and progress was seen not only by the club, but the residents and the management of Swallowfield Park. Their encouragement and enthusiasm made the effort seem worth the while and at least being able to see what everyone would have at the end kept everyone's foresight alive.

Dominic Martyn of the Environment Agency provided addition information for the clubs management plan including part of the flood risk categorization. The Decoy Pond had been assigned a 1 in 100 year flood event risk, meaning that it could be expected to flood once every one hundred years. Given the previous years extreme weather conditions eventually leading to the flooding of surrounding areas this assessment seemed to be a reasonable assumption. The next few months of the new year proved this to somewhat on the generous side.  The working parties had worked so hard to drain the lake and attempt to get the silt to start drying out that just when things started to progress, the rivers would rise substantially after wet period and burst their banks, thus flooding the lake. The sluice outlets had been blocked off once the lake had been initially drained to to stop any water from small variations in river water levels, but these would not prevent the ingress of water from the floods. This happened at least three times in as many months leaving those who had worked on the pond, feeling pretty low.

January Floods 2008 January Floods 2008 January Floods 2008

The floods in the months from January hampered work somewhat, but come April, the weather threw another surprise at the Decoy Pond. Although not as drastic as the flooding, the surprise did make for a picturesque setting as the photo's below show. Incidentally, these are not black and white photographs, but full colour, the third picture showing the green of the willow.

 April Snow 2008 April Snow 2008 April Snow 2008

 The remaining months of 2008 went on unhindered in terms of weather or setbacks. The water stayed low enough or almost none existent for the silt depths to be measured over the entire bed of the pond. This was physically demanding and time consuming as the depths were measured every few meters with a depth gauge. One club member wading through the silt taking depth readings and a second collating the data. During the data collection phase, the club would be allowed to deposit some of the silt around the banks of the pond to maximum depth of 6". Any surplus would have to go somewhere else. Mark Robins, Estate Manager of Farley Farms agreed to take any surplus for agricultural purposes provided the silt was tested first. This would only then leave the club with the problem of logistics should it need to be taken into the surrounding fields. With the depth readings still being taken, the overall silt quantity was an unknown variable, but with the available bank area and an allowable 6" of depth, the free space  would allow the deposit of some 2700 cubic meters of silt. The actual weight of the silt would be impossible to calculate given its wet saturated state within the pond and the fact it would shrink as it dried on the banks.

Another factor that needed attention for the management plan was access route for the machinery as and when the time came for the works to commence. Again. Mark Robins of Farley Farms was approached and agreed to allow access across the park land to the pond. HGV routes of the surrounding roads were also looked at to take into account of how the machinery would be possibly delivered. Initial talks with John Stacey & Sons, who would eventually perform the groundwork's, suggested a bulldozer of some 20 tons to move the silt up and out onto the banks and given the size of this machine the access would need to be via Swallowfield Road from Arborfield or further along by Swallowfield Church an in along the East Drive of the Park.

December 2008 brought the final stages of the management plan together to a complete document that would need to be submitted to the Environment Agency. This was essential given that the pond was in a flood plain and required the agencies consent before any work could start. In brief, the plan covered the geographic location, pond history and previous work done, water quality, silt removal quantities, silt deposit sites and area calculations, finished depths and layout along with intended fish species and stocking levels.