Questions asked as fish and river life die in stagnant Pakenham stream
Questions are being asked over what caused thousands of fish and river life to die in a Pakenham stream this week.
Grimstone End resident Jackie Manning woke on Monday to a ‘horrendous stench’ and realised the smell was coming from the water.
“From where Pakenham Watermill is to the sewage plant, everything has died,” said Jackie.
“It is rotten. There are thousands of dead fish. The whole river has gone stagnant and it reeks.
“On Monday, we were pulling massive dead pike, as long as my arm, out of the water.
“It is an environmental disaster.”
Jackie said the river had been smelly for two to three weeks, but on opening the door on Monday ‘the stench just hit me’.
“The smell is worse than the sewage factory and then when we inspected the water we realised everything in the river was dead,” said Jackie.
“How many years is it going to take to get the river back to health? This is absolutely horrific.”
After spending Monday and Tuesday trying to clear duckweed and dead fish from the water, Jackie is keen to know what caused the river to stagnate and speculated it could be a result of the heatwave, the nearby sewage plant, sluice boards at the watermill, or a combination of the three.
“The river has got this thick duck weed on the top that is just rotting, maybe that caused this?" said Jackie.
“The stench is so bad you can taste it in the air.”
Jackie said she had owned her land for 20 years and it was the first time the river had ‘died’.
Piers Hart, chairman of the trustees of Suffolk Historic Building Trust, which owns and operates Pakenham Watermill, said he had been at the mill with volunteers on Wednesday trying to establish the cause of the problem.
"Anglian Water and the Environment Agency attended on Tuesday, but they are equally baffled at this stage," said Mr Hart.
"They found the oxygen levels to be very low in the mill pond and even lower at the entrance to the pond, which would indicate that the problem lies further upstream. This is our opinion, as the mill has been suffering from low water levels for the past year.
"A low flow of water to the mill would in turn reduce the dilution of of the effluent from the Thurston sewage treatment plant: this would certainly have a drastic effect on oxygen levels."
A spokeswoman for Anglian Water said on Wednesday there were no known issues at the sewage plant, but it was sending staff out to double check.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Our officers have investigated on-site and found no evidence of a pollution in the watercourse.
"We believe oxygen levels in the water are low, which can result naturally from changing weather and heavy rainfall.
"The odour is likely a result of rotting vegetation in the river as there is currently a large amount of surface weed present.
"Although we didn’t observe any fish in distress or a notable number of dead fish, we will continue to monitor the river and will take steps to help fish if needed.
"We’d remind people to please report sightings of fish in distress or other suspected environmental incidents to our hotline on 0800 80 70 60 so we can investigate."