‘No evidence’ of pollution across the entire lake

The survey is the start of a long-term monitoring project, Lancaster University said

A “scratch map” survey of England’s largest lake found that water quality is not “high” in all areas but there was “no evidence” of problems across the whole of Windermere.

Lancaster University, which published the findings, said it had started a long-term monitoring programme.

Project leaders explained that a more complete picture of the lake’s water quality would emerge as more data is collected.

It follows that Windermere is concerned that it is facing a pollution “catastrophe”.

Zoologist Matt Staniek has warned that sewage from waste treatment sites, mold tanks at homes and holiday lets, and runoff from farming land have contributed to a major decline in water quality.

In the “citizen survey” around 100 volunteers collected samples from 93 sites across Windermere, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Blelham Tarn and Esthwaite Water, as well as several rivers and streams flowing into Windermere.

Senior lecturer Dr Ben Surridge said: “The survey highlights that it is a mistake to think of Windermere as one body of water with the same water quality everywhere.

“The results show that the water quality is not high in all parts of the lake, but equally there is no evidence in the survey of poor water quality across the whole of Windermere.

“Understanding where water quality is poorer in Windermere is essential if we are to identify what is causing the decline in water quality and address these issues successfully.”

A blue-green algae bloom at Windermere earlier this year

Zoologist Matt Staniek highlighted a blue-green algae bloom at Windermere

Dr Louise Lavictoire, from the Association of Freshwater Biology which is helping to oversee the project, warned against reading too much into one set of results but said further surveys would create a “strong scientific picture”.

Blue-green blooms such as those highlighted by Mr Staniek can make people sick and be fatal to animals. They occur naturally but are exacerbated by nutrients from phosphate in pollutants such as sewage.

The Love Windermere partnership, which includes the Environment Agency, United Utilities, the Lake District National Park Authority and the National Trust, said it was “committed to developing the most effective solutions to maintain and improve water quality in the lake”.

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