Whitehaven residents hope for clarity in harbour water mystery

  • The water in Queens Dock first turned brown in November 2022

Whitehaven residents have said they are growing increasingly frustrated as their harbour remains blighted with discoloured brown water.

Though investigations are working to find out what has happened to cause this, local businesses have said it is impacting the town's reputation and their footfall.

While the problem has been ongoing for nearly a year, the cause of the issue remains a mystery with no party claiming responsibility.

Network Rail is currently carrying out investigations on a nearby railway bridge and other local agencies say they are aware of the problem.

The water at Queens Dock first turned brown in November of last year and becomes murkier with heavy rainfall.

Simone Morgan, Marina manager of Whitehaven Marina, said: "Visitor numbers are down 30 to 40 per cent on previous years, so visitors aren't wanting to come to the area.

"It is affecting the business now and it's affecting the town as well. Because if you came for a weekend, then you've got the clean up of your vessel once you depart.

"Everybody in what is and is proud of the harbour and now it's just becoming a bit of the reputation now is that we're well known for the orange water."

Local businesses argue the state of the water could undermine efforts to attract people to the town to help boost the local economy.

Deanne Shallcross, chief executive of Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners, said: "It's accepted that it's kind of coming from historic mine workings.

"Copeland is full of mines around this area, so it's been identified that it is coming through.

"They don't know what the original source is. And that's the difficulty.

"It's hard when you have all the agencies together then trying to get them together round the table can be difficult in the first place."

The Harbour Commissioners have previously said it's not thought to be harmful but are at a loss to know what's causing it and the sight of the brown water has become a major talking point in the town.

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