What is happening to Wanstead Park’s lakes?

Lack of rainfall and a broken pump have been cited by City of London Corporation as the main reason for the shocking levels of the ponds through the park.

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The Ornamental Water by the Grotto is virtually dry. Images courtesy of Ralph Potter

The plight of the water courses has been well documented of late; a press release from the Corporation explains the catalogue of issues hampering efforts to address the problem. Closer scrutiny of these reasons, however, suggest that too much is being blamed on the weather.

A study of local rainfall back to 1981 suggests that though the ground water replenishing season (October 1st – April 24th) has been dry it is by no means out of the ordinary.

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As you can see from the graph the rainfall here has gone up and down like a yo-yo and 2016-17 is only the fourth driest period: 1991-92, 1995-96, 1996-97 and 2011-12 were drier.

The Corporation’s press release states: “2015-16 was a helpfully wet period for us…”

Wrong. 2015-16 was average. And if you consider annual rainfall 2015 saw 92 per cent of average rainfall recorded; 2016 was 93 per cent – placing 58th and 66th in driest years since 1797. Nothing out of the ordinary.

“2016-17 has, however, been an especially dry period with below average rainfall since Spring 2016.”

Wrong. See above detail. There have been three drier periods since 1981. And since March 2016, only half of the months have been notably dry, a period that included the third wettest June since 1797.

“January to March 2017 has seen roughly 50% less rainfall than average”

Wrong. January to March rainfall was 94% of the 1981-2010 average

April has been dry, and could be among the top 5 driest back to 1797, but it seems the Corporation are trying to blame nature instead of years of neglect on their part.

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The past months have seen much of Heronry Pond dry out. Image by Ralph Potter

 

The situation is in stark contrast to CoL’s other open space, Hampstead Heath, which has recently seen the completion of a £23m project to make safe the ponds there. CoL has deep pockets yet they have dithered for years over spending £25,000 to renovate the Coronation Bridge – and offer the people of Ilford a route into the park.
Figures released by CoL show it has only invested £1.23m in Wanstead Park over the last five years, compared with £50m spent in Hampstead Heath.

We are constantly told that problems in the park are ‘in hand’ yet progress on anything is painfully slow – and action to repair the pump has sadly come too late for much of the wildlife on Heronry Pond.

People from far and wide use Wanstead Park – they really deserve better!

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You can view City of London Corporation’s press release here

 

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March 2017: very mild and dry

The mean temperature in March 2017 was the mildest in a local record going back to 1797.march 2017

A complete absence of air frost was mirrored in the mean which finished 10.5C, 2.8C above average and 0.3C higher than the previous record set in 1997.

The record temperature was probably down to notably mild air masses through the month as the total sunshine hours were about average, 107.2 hours is 99% of the 1981-2010 average.

The warmest day occured on the 30th with a high of 21.6°C in Wanstead, the warmest March day for 5 years.

Rainfall was very sparse, just 21.3mm were recorded, that’s 52% of average – a pattern that seems to be becoming more frequent; four of the last six Marches have been notably dry.

Sunshine was average. Over 107.2 hours were recorded, 99% of what we can expect to see during an average March.

The wettest day occurred on the 22nd with 5.8mm.

Air frosts: 0, Ground frosts: 1

Here follows the full weather diary for March. To view full stats follow this link:http://1drv.ms/1kiTuzv

1st: Sunny start, the sky gradually filling in with light rain at 3pm and into the evening. A windy night.
2nd: Sunny and blustery start, clouding over with some light rain in afternoon / evening. Drier overnight before area of light rain moved in at 0730z.
3rd: Cloudy start with light rain late morning. Feeling cold.
4th: Cold and cloudy with brief showers in the afternoon and overnight.
5th: Light rain at 9am and during the morning, briefly clearing at 10.30am before heavy showers moved in through the afternoon. Some warm sunny intervals in between. Showers into the evening until 10pm.
6th: Sunny start with just a few clouds around.
7th: Bright start with decreasing cloud to leave sunny late morning. Variable cloud through the afternoon. Rain at 00.50 until 0144.
8th: Light rain between 9 and 11am then showery though mostly light. Mild.
9th Sunny start though tending to cloud in late afternoon. Feeling mild.
10th: Cloudy with a burst of light rain at 10.30am.
11th: Bright, hazy start and feeling mild. Very quiet weather – pleasant in the garden.
12th: Cloudy with drizzle early afternoon
13th: Sunny start with a few cirrus, cloud gradually increasing but staying mostly sunny.
14th: Cloudy, mild and boring start – boring and cloudy all day.
15th: Misty start, quickly clearing to leave a glorious sunny day and pleasant.
16th: Sunny and clear up to 12 noon, then haze and cumulus pushing in and gradually thickening up. Light drizzle between midnight and early hours as cold front pushed through.
17th: Sunny but hazy start, this haze thickening through the morning. Feeling noticeably colder with patchy drizzle – felt quite inclement in the evening.
18th: Bright and breezy start. Then mostly cloudy with odd patch of drizzle.
19th: Cloudy, breezy with odd drizzle patch. Sunny intervals late morning and into the afternoon before clouding over in evening. Moderate rain at 1am.
20th: Cloudy and breezy start. Heavy showers spreading in with brief stair rods at 3pm, then clear and much cooler overnight.
21st: Sunny with well scattered cumulus.
22nd: Cloudy, dull and feeling cold in the wind. Showery rain, this turning heavier into the evening and to 1am.
23rd: Cloudy and breezy, some sun mid afternoon which felt warm.
24th: Cloudy, chilly and windy morning.
25th: Sunny and clear but with bracing easterly wind – pleasant outside the wind in the sun.
26th: Sunny and much more pleasant than yesterday with lighter wind.
27th: Cloudy and cold to start, the cloud breaking to long sunny periods that led to a pleasant afternoon. Cloudier overnight with cloudy, chilly dawn.
28th: Sunny, gin clear start. Cloud began building after noon with sun becoming ever more scarce. Light rain late evening and overnight.
29th: Cloudy and mild
30th: Sunny, though hazy start with lots of alto cumulus
31st: Cloudy and dull with brief drizzle at 9.30am. Cloud slightly less heavy at noon.