Dead fish found at Somerset pond as water dries up

The Minery Ponds have nearly disappeared, threatening wildlife Credit: Graeme Boyce

Somerset residents have raised concerns about wildlife at a local pond which has almost dried up.

The Minery Ponds, located next to the Charterhouse Outdoor Centre in Cheddar, have virtually disappeared.

One local resident, Graeme Boyce, believes this is because water is being abstracted from the area - but Bristol Water has insisted this is not the case.

He said: "I might be wrong, but I think that if they stopped abstracting so much water - even stopped it for a while to allow the springs to come to the surface and fill it back up - and kept an eye on it and controlled what they were doing, then it wouldn't get to this stage."

He worries for birds and other wildlife, especially in hot weather conditions.

"If something's not done quite urgently and the small fish that are flapping about in there now, gasping for breath and trying to survive, well within the next day or so there will be nothing left.

"There's no feed to it - the water's not being replenished. It's just a very sad event," he added.

Bristol Water said it has no measures in place in the area that would impact the pond.

A spokesperson said: “We have no arrangements in place that would impact this particular pond. We suspect this has occurred due to very low groundwater levels across the Mendips.

“We used to have a well source nearby in Priddy but this was decommissioned and the abstraction licence revoked in 2005.

"We also do have a naturally fed spring source with a small treatment works at Charterhouse. However, this was affected by a fire in 2018 and is in the process of being rebuilt currently.

"In any case, we do not actively pump out water at this location, we use what is available from the naturally occurring spring.

“Our Cheddar Reservoir (sometimes also known as Axbridge Reservoir) is fed by water coming from the Mendips but again this is naturally fed by springs that emerge in the Cheddar Gorge. We do not pump water out of the ground and can only divert to the reservoir water that is not required to meet minimum flows in the downstream River Axe.”

In previous years Bristol Water has been reprimanded by the Environment Agency for taking too much water.

Steps are being taken to ensure preventative measures are being put in place to protect water supplies, in what has been the driest summer in 50 years.

On Wednesday morning (10 August) environment secretary George Eustice and environment minister Steve Double met with water company CEOs to discuss their response to the conditions.

Mr Eustice said: “All water companies have reassured me that water supplies remain resilient across the country.

"Each company has a pre-agreed drought plan which they are following, and I have urged them to take any precautionary steps needed to protect essential supplies as we go into a likely very dry autumn.

"We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather with a system that is working well to manage water usage, protect the environment and maintain water supplies for the public and critical sectors. We will continue to actively monitor the situation, working alongside partners including the Environment Agency.”