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Snowdonia-Active News Item

Llyn Padarn Forum 05/11/2009

Environment Agency Wales (EAW) has set up the Llyn Padarn Stakeholder Group to bring interested parties together to discuss the green blue algae issue that has afflicted Llyn Padarn, making it 'unusable' this summer and autumn (previous news item).

The group, chaired by Arfon Assembly Member, Alun Ffred Jones, included representatives from among others: Countryside Council for Wales, Welsh Water, Gwynedd Council, Angling Association and Snowdonia-Active.

In the summary presented to the group, recent assessment of sample data for Llanberis Sewage Treatment Works (STW) showed that it was operating within its consent limits but that the maximum allowable phosphate 'exceedences' for the year had been reached. A hydroacoustic survey carried out in August indicated a long term decline in larger fish.

EAW have concerns that oxygen levels in the lake may become critically low, endangering survival of the rare arctic charr. A trial rearing and stocking of arctic charr from Llyn Padarn is planned if necessary.

Chris Wright, from Snowdonia-Active, felt that: "Although the forum was well attended it did not go very far in terms of finding solutions and pretty much confirmed that from the Environment Agency's perspective we could be in for the long haul."

To instigate a reason for tightening the consent limit of effluent discharge into Llyn Padarn, it is necessary to have evidence for proving impact and ascertaining what level of protection is required. This requires EAW having to get data for the whole lake (depth and breadth) and produce a 'nutrient budget'. To put together this comprehensive picture, EAW is quoting a figure of two years.

Chris Wright commented further, saying: "Businesses at the meeting were concerned that if it takes two years, and the algae bloom continues or returns, they may well not be around by then."

In the short-term, EAW is looking at introducing a limit on the amount of iron discharged in the sewage effluent as nutrients such as phosphates attach themselves to the iron particles and sink to the bottom of the lake. This could reduce the levels of phosphates being trapped. Apart from the final effluent from Llanberis STW there are a number of other potential inputs to the lake.

Environment Agency Wales said: "The effluent consent figures we arrive at depend on variables such as the nature of the receiving watercourse, type and volume of discharge etc. Whilst we obviously have national standards for specific types, the limits on a permit varies as to what is environmentally protective. Modelling of the effect is also a major factor in any determination."

A further meeting is planned in January 2010 for a progress update.

Topic: Llyn Padarn, Blue Green Algae, Environment Agency Wales

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