Tonnes of mud, wedding rings, Go-Pros, eels and broken glass… If you’ve ever wondered what’s under the water in Clevedon Marine Lake, now you know!
Twice a year Clevedon Marine Lake volunteers open the sluice gates to drain out the water to remove tonnes of silt build-up. With the second-highest tidal range in the world, the Bristol Channel around Clevedon moves too much to let the silt settle on the river bed. Every time the tide tops over the lake’s wall, it deposits the mud that sinks to the bottom and builds up over time. To keep the lake deep enough for swimmers, canoeists and paddle-boarders, we need to get the digger in.
On March 19th we opened the penstock and sluice gate, letting the water in Clevedon Marine Lake slowly drain out.
Then, on Saturday 21st, a working party of around 60 volunteers trawled the lake bed to remove debris, rescue sea creatures and search for missing treasure. Among the treasures found were two GoPro cameras and three rings.
Caspar Clarke was our youngest volunteer to find a ring using the metal detector that he got for Christmas. After his mother posted a photo of 9-year-old Caspar holding the ring on the swimmers’ Facebook page, we managed to reunite it with its owner, Andrew Mitchard.
“I lost my wedding ring while paddle-boarding somewhere in Clevedon Marine Lake last June,” said Andrew. “With the help of a nine-year-old with a metal detector and a bit of social media assistance, it’s only gone and turned up! Nine months at the bottom of the marine lake, and it’s still in reasonable condition. Rumour has it my wife is planning to talk to me tonight! I would like to say thank you to Caspar and all at Marlens.”
A lot of people don’t realise that Clevedon Marine Lake is run by a charity and a dedicated team of volunteers. These volunteers don’t just organise clear-ups when the lake is drained; they also litter-pick, clean, mend and even pick up dog poo pretty much every day. They also clean, catalogue and store all items found in the lake with the hope of returning them to their owners.
“Cleaning up the lake was quite fun, especially when we found cool things like eels and rings! I felt really excited and surprised that I actually found something,” said Caspar. “The man was obviously very happy for me to find it, and I was happy because he got his ring back.”
We are now working hard to prepare for what we expect to be a busy summer. We’re putting in two sets of new steps, adding extra water quality tests and redesigning the website and lake signage. This will make it easier than ever to enjoy the lake, keep it clean and safe, and observe social distancing for as long as it’s in place.
We know that fresh air and exercise support our immunity and is good for our mental and physical health, so we don’t want to discourage visitors. But we would ask that people help us keep the lake clean by not bringing their dogs, taking home their litter and that they donate £2 every time they visit.