Chironimus Saliarius midge in Millbrook lake – Email from the Environment Agency

May 4, 2024 | Community News, Council News

General Enquiry Ref: 31670 Complaint Ref: 19391 Midges

3rd May 2024:  Email received from the Environment Agency

On Fri, 3 May 2024 at 14:48, DCIS Enquiries <DCISEnquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk> wrote:

Thank you for your email dated 24/04/2024.

We can confirm that we have responded to Complaint Ref: 19391.

The Environment Agency is putting every effort into managing the numbers of the Chironimus Saliarius midge in Millbrook lake as part of its role in managing the flood defences in Millbrook.

Millbrook Tidal Flood Barrier is an important flood defence which reduces the chance of flooding to the local community. It controls lake levels upstream and we have an extensive operational regime in place to help manage the midge population, which is informed by a report conducted by The Institute of Freshwater Ecology.

Between spring and autumn our staff drain the lake using the control structure at the barrier in order to flush the water and erode the lakebed, reducing the midge population while they are in their immature stage. We have included additional lake drainage operations to the start of this year’s program. However, the changing climate and the exceptionally mild, wet and stormy conditions experienced this year are likely to have affected the dynamic and may well be a prompt to review the number of flushes we conduct during the late winter/early spring period. It is also worth noting that the movement and congregation of midges can be influenced by other factors such as wind speed and direction.

In reference to the specific concern from the context of the complaint regarding ‘This is possibly due to the amount of fresh water in Millbrook lake, it will get worse each year due the lake getting silted up with mud etc getting washed down from the fields. This then does not allow the amount of salt water going back into the lake after draining to kill the midges’. The Institute of Freshwater Ecology report notes that the Chironimus Saliarius midge are saline tolerant, therefore it is unlikely that additional measures such as dredging the lake to increase the volume of saltwater which could enter the lake would be effective.

We intend to commission a review of the Institute of Freshwater Ecology report (carried out in 1998) to inform our future maintenance strategy and we will involve the local community through the Parish Council. We will be in contact to discuss how residents can help inform this, for example by logging occurrences and sharing ideas.

In the meantime, the 2024 flushing programme (including extra flushes) has started and will continue its fortnightly cycle. The most recent drain and flush operation was conducted on the 26 April 2024. The full program has been made available to the parish council and is displayed on the green kiosk next to the tidal flap for public reference.

Given the short notice and the upcoming review of the 1998 report, it would be more beneficial for us to update/attend a meeting in early winter, anticipating some progress to report on. At this point we can only conjecture on the reasons for midge numbers at present, a mild wet winter being a possible suspect. We might conclude extra flushing during late winter/early spring could possibly assist, but we would prefer to defer to any regime changes to the recommendations from the review.

I hope this update is satisfactory.

Kind regards,

Claudia

DCISEnquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk

24th April 2024: Email to Environment Agency from Parish Clerk

Request for update on communication with parishioner and invitation to attend Annual Community Engagement to be held on 11th May 2024.

23rd April 2024: Response received from the Environment Agency

Asset Performance Central Team Leader, who will respond to you by 17/05/2024.

18th April 2024: Complaint from resident submitted to the Environment Agency

I wish to raise a complaint, We are yet again swarming with midge’s, we can not open our windows or doors, This is possibly due to the amount of fresh water in Millbrook lake, it will get worse each year due the the lake getting silted up with mud etc getting washed down from the fields. This then does not allow the amount of salt water going back into the lake after draining to kill the midges. Please take action it is both a health and safety risk.

 

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