Posted on November 15, 2023
As previously reported, Weymouth town councillor Matt Bell had started a petition calling to dredge Radipole Lake from silt after persistent flooding following Storm Ciaran and yellow rain and flood warnings.
Cllr Bell also said there is a ‘need to investigate’ whether the gate valves that control the flow of water at Westham Bridge can be adjusted to allow water to exit the lake.
Eddie Waring, secretary of the Radipole Lake Angling Society, has written a letter on behalf of the society to share concerns at the levels of flooding in the lake.
Most of the members have fished at the lake in more than 30 years, and Mr Waring said there are ‘considerable concerns’ from the members of the society that the lake is reaching its ‘critical point’ regarding excessive silting.
The letter also outlines the society’s concerns about the ‘lack of reed control’ at the lake, especially where the river spills into the lake. Mr Waring said that this is creating a natural build-up of silt from decaying products.
Mr Waring said: “During the early 80s the lake was approximately six to seven feet deep in many of the fishing areas, today we find ourselves with an average depth of three feet of water and between three to four feet of silt.
“This is not acceptable to the wildlife that occupy the lake, anglers that pay significant money to fish the lake but most of all to the local community who have to put up with the thought of flooding within and around their properties,” he added.
Mr Waring’s letter went on to say that the society, along with the local community, will be actively campaigning to have what they describe as a ‘dire situation’ reversed.
The society has called upon the council to explore all possible avenues to move this forward in a ‘timely manner.’
Mr Waring said: “Unfortunately this topic has been on the radar of councillors and local authority for many years, however and to no surprise nothing has ever been done to rectify this now very serious situation we find ourselves in.”
Alan Muncaster of Chickerell, a former borough council principal engineer, said that the RSPB called for the lake levels to be raised – and silting has occurred as a result of this but is not the cause of flooding.
He said: “If lake levels were set lower then there is more capacity for the lake to store flood water and therefore reduce the chances of flooding.”
Mr Muncaster went on to say that ‘keeping the levels lower can store more water before the tide level has dropped below the lake level and then the lake can discharge to the harbour.’
“Dredging the lake will make the water deeper but unless the levels are lowered it will not have the capacity to store flood water and reduce flooding,” he added.
Nigel Graham, who has lived in Weymouth since the 1960s, wrote into the Echo to express his concerns over dredging the lake.
He said that deepening the lake ‘does not alter its key statistics’ of altitude and flood capacity.
He said that the Westham Bridge is a dam whose sluices moderate the lake’s level, keeping the water fresh.
“The lake’s minimum level is set by the larger culverts, whose flaps open automatically when the ebbing tide lowers the Backwater below Lake level,” he said.
Mr Graham, from Wyke Regis, said these are designed to be more than adequate all year round. He went on to say that the smaller, middle sluices are opened by motors controlled by water-level monitors, only in high flood and still only on ebbing tides.
He said that altering or removing either ‘will compromise the dam’s ecological purpose.’
The concerned resident also said that ‘merely dredging Radipole Lake may remove vast populations of silt-dwelling organisms eaten by fish and some birds.’