THE DIPPING POND 'BIG CLEAN' AND RENOVATION (2012-13)
OverviewThe Dipping Pond - that is the small pond at the side of the Pavilion - was originally created in 2003, using a large sum of money kindly donated by Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Fund through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. The Pond was designed by Basildon Borough's Countryside Education team, and it provided an ideal habitat for a wide variety of small aquatic creatures. It was primarily used by schools, and the FOWCP for 'Pond Dipping' activities. It was constructed using puddled clay.
By the early Summer of 2012, the pond had become choked with weeds and rushes. The immediate problem of the moment was that the pond was due to be used in the looming 2012 Nature Quest event - see issue 32 of our Skylarks Newsletter - and, as things stood, it would be unusable.
Stage 1 - Pond Clearing, July 2012You can also read about the Working Party that was convened to effect a 'Big Clean' of the choking weeds and rushes in issue 32 of our Skylarks Newsletter. .
It was quickly recognised that the clearing project could only ever be a short-term fix to an evolving, more serious, problem with the pond. Over several consecutive summers, the water level dropped, the clay dried and cracked and so the water level dropped further. This drying out was detrimental to the wildlife in the pond, and a situation was looming when it would no longer be suitable for pond dipping. Therefore, action was needed to reconstruct the Dipping Pond, but this time using more modern techniques, so that the issue did not arise again for a considerable number of years, and the Dipping Pond could once again become a haven for wildlife, with frogs, toads, newts and invertebrates being attracted.
Stage 2 - Renovation, November 20012 to February 2013Quotes and advice were obtained and plans drawn up for the work which was required, and it was estimated that a sum in the region of £7,000 was needed to make the pond viable again. In April 2012 the Friends of Wick Country Park applied for £2,000 funding from Basildon Council's Diamond Jubilee Celebration Grant. It was with great excitement that shortly afterwards the Committee heard that our application had been successful.
Meanwhile, the Friends had been busy fund raising, and profits from the Quiz Night and Paws in the Park raised £1,000 towards the pond restoration fund. Knowing that Veolia Pitsea Marshes Trust looked favourably on wildlife and community projects, we approached them for the shortfall and were finally rewarded with a grant for £4,080.
Eco Site Solutions, a Countryside Management Company, arrived in November 2012 to reline the leaky pond. The first task was to cut down the tall grasses from around the pond and make a pile a short distance away. This heap of vegetation had an important role to play as a safe temporary home for 25 frogs and 4 newts, which had to be removed. The water was pumped out and a digger was used to shape the pond to the right depth, and to create the important sloping sides and ledges. The hollow was lined with butyl and this was then covered with a thick layer of clay, which would have been teeming with tiny wildlife. Water from a nearby ditch was pumped back in and with the addition of heavy rainfall the pond was soon full. A decision was made not to put back the aquatic plants as the plants we wanted were so tangled up with Reedmace (Bulrushes), which would have been too aggressive for this size of pond.
In the Spring of 2013, Eco Site Solutions returned to lay top soil and to seed the edges of the pond; more aquatic plants were added, including marginals around the pond, at no extra cost. Four benches have been installed near to the pond, and fences around it have been repaired or replaced. We were able to sit back and watch the pond gradually naturalise and once again become a wildlife haven. The frogs and newts have returned, and the plants have flourished. A big thank you to Veolia Trusts and Basildon Jubilee Fund for helping with the cost, also Eco Sites Solutions for their excellent work and generosity, and all those who helped us to raise our share of the funds by supporting our events.