‘Algae soup’: Action needed at town river, argue councillors

More action is needed to tackle a town’s polluted river which has turned into “algae soup”, councillors have said.

West Norfolk Council members have spoke of their frustrations at the state of the Gaywood River, a rare chalk stream that runs through the centre of Lynn.

It has led to calls for the authority to put more pressure on the Environment Agency and other organisations to work together and create a plan to address the issue.

Gaywood River flowing through The Walks in Lynn
Gaywood River flowing through The Walks in Lynn

This came after it was claimed that parts of the river have become “algae soup” – with ducks able to almost “walk on top of it,” according to Cllr Deborah Heneghan.

This was at a recent Lynn area consultative committee meeting, where Cllr Alexandra Ware added: “It is absolutely important we get on top of this.

“The Environment Agency has said it knows what the cause is but still you have the situation where there is no wildlife in the river and it is a cloudy, murky mess.”

An aerial view of the Gaywood River. Picture: Google Maps
An aerial view of the Gaywood River. Picture: Google Maps

Cllr Rob Colwell added: “The Gaywood River should be one of the highlights of our town but instead many people are concerned about the state of the water.

“We need to encourage responsible agencies to do more to help.”

Campaigners have said the river, a tributary of the River Great Ouse, is being “slowly choked to death” due to pollution and abstraction – and in 2019 high levels of mercury were discovered by the Environment Agency.

A spokesperson for the EA said: “We’re aware that people are concerned about the health of the Gaywood River.

“We regularly monitor water quality in the river and can confirm that its overall ecological status is good.

“Our recent sampling and monitoring shows no evidence that the physical-chemical elements are having a detrimental effect on flora and fauna populations.”

“If people suspect pollution, or have any concerns, they can report it to our 24-hour freephone incident line on 0800 80 70 60.”

The 6.7-mile river rises in Derby Fen, to the east of Lynn, and flows into the town’s north eastern suburbs.

It passes through a culvert beneath the railway station and runs through the parkland of The Walks before entering another culvert and flowing into the River Great Ouse at the southern end of South Quay.