The Welsh Harp Brent Reservoir re-fill has begun

With the works nearing completion at the Welsh Harp Brent Reservoir, national waterways charity Canal & River Trust is now allowing the reservoir to once again re-fill with water.

The Welsh Harp Brent Reservoir was built in 1835 to supply water to the Grand Union Canal. As well as being a place for sailing, watersports and walking, the reservoir is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the rich diversity of wildlife found on site, including water birds and 16 protected plant species.

The reservoir repairs and maintenance, supported with funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will ensure that the popular green space remains safe and available for residents in Brent and Barnet. The works undertaken by the Canal & River Trust have overhauled the infrastructure that controls the day-to-day water levels in the reservoir. To undertake the works, the Canal & River Trust had the mammoth task of draining a billion litres of water from the reservoir and rehoming 100,000 fish before water levels got too low.

Ros Daniels, the Canal & River Trust’s London & South East director, explains: “The Welsh Harp Brent Reservoir is one of London’s most significant urban wild spaces and provides a much valued area of green open space for people and wildlife. 

Whilst carrying out our essential maintenance works at the reservoir, which involved temporarily draining the water, we took the opportunity to work alongside some amazing local volunteers to remove litter that London has allowed to be carried downstream into the reservoir. This involved picking up and taking away over 1,000 bags rubbish, as well as dustbins, tyres, e-bikes, scooters, safes, clothing and suitcases.  We’ve also made additional improvements for wildlife, including creating new nesting areas in the reed beds for wetland birds, willow coppicing and removing silt.

“Once the reservoir has refilled, with the support of the Welsh Harp Conservation Group, we plan to install 13 new island habitats for common terns, one of the species of water bird that lives on the reservoir.”

“Unfortunately the succession of winter storms and high rainfall levels we’ve experience over the winter did delay the repairs and improvements, but we’ve worked closely with Natural England to minimise the impact on wildlife.  We’re now looking forward to welcoming back Londoner’s and wildlife to this special oasis and, depending on how much rain we get, expect the reservoir to have re-filled by the end of May.”

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “The teams involved in the Welsh Harp Brent Reservoir project have put in a mammoth effort draining it, rescuing wildlife and removing the tonnes of litter.

“Welsh Harp Brent Reservoir is a little slice of countryside and serenity in the city, so I’m delighted the next stage of works in allowing it to be refilled is underway and money raised by our players is helping to make this possible.”

The reservoir remains open to the public throughout the works, but signs are in place warning visitors not to walk on the reservoir’s drained area and mud for their own safety.

To donate to the Trust’s Welsh Harp (Brent) Reservoir clean-up crowd funding campaign, click here.

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