Westham pond update: Residents say complaints have ‘fallen on deaf ears’

Residents have raised issues around the condition of Westham pond again as it is covered in an infestation of water fern.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 11:31 am

Back in 2018 there were issues with thick green sludge in Westham pond in Mortain Road and now the full surface is covered in the green fern.

Christine Fenner, a resident who lives a stone’s throw from the pond in Montfort Close, said, “There’s no water just water fern – people are asking if it is going to be mowed.

“It has been like this for about a week but the water fern has been growing for about four weeks – my husband was assured it was just duck weed.

Westham pond. Photo from Christine Fenner. SUS-210713-135157001

“The pond is completely covered and getting thicker and it seems it will be killing everything by depriving it of light and oxygen.”

Mrs Fenner said the council is being ‘too slow’ to react to the problem and suspects plants transferred from Pevensey Levels have caused the water fern to take over.

She said, “Fifty-four years of ducks and no water fern but two years of plants from the marshes and it arrives.

“We have asked Westham Parish Council for assurances that something will be done properly and promptly but it has fallen on deaf ears so far. ”

This comes three years after residents went up against parish councillors to see the maintenance of the pond improved.

In August 2018 dead fish were found floating in thick green sludge and environmentalists said at the time there was ‘no proper ecological maintenance’.

In September 2018 a petition from residents resulted in a plan being made to tackle the problems the pond was seeing. Councillors and volunteers were assigned to looked after the pond.

In response to the water fern problem, Mike Haffner, the chairman of Westham Parish Council, said, “The council is aware of the concerns of local residents, and has already taken steps to reduce the infestation, which is an invasive species of Azolla, a type of tiny floating fern.

“Unlike the dead fish and toxic blue green algae of July 2018 this infestation is not dangerous and azolla is used as animal feed in some countries.

Whilst it is not in itself dangerous, the parish council has restricted access to the water as a precaution as the weed might give the appearance of a solid surface,

“Azolla’s natural enemy, a tiny beetle, has already been detected, should clear the pond given time, and should also prevent any re-occurrence. Meanwhile the parish council will be doing its best to reduce the volume of the weed to prevent any impact on other aquatic life.

“We appreciate that currently the pond does not look particularly nice, but unlike previously there is a maintenance plan in place, and the water quality is now excellent, despite its green covering.”