Lower Pond: Update, September 2006

Yes, it does look a mess! (And things have not been helped by the vandal(s) who so badly damaged two of the adjacent oak trees that they had to be felled for safety reasons.)

For the past 6 years, the level of water in the lower pond has been steadily dropping. The Woodcote Conservation Group – with support from the Parish Council – has been managing a project to find out just what has caused this dramatic change in water levels.

Over the past 18 months we have been working with the UK’s leading pond experts, the charity Pond Conservation (www.pondstrust.org.uk), who have provided funding for a Hydrologist to carry out a detailed survey of the site.

Information gathered from over 20 bore-holes in the surrounding woodland, along with regular monitoring of local rainfall, has shown that the underground aquifer – the main source of water to both ponds – has somehow been diverted and has ceased to flow towards the lower pond. This has meant that without this underground ‘spring’, the pond has only been fed by rainwater, and has thus gradually reduced to the level you see today.

One positive aspect of this reduction in water level is that a set of steps adjacent to the old ‘well-head’ has been exposed, having been hidden from view for the past 80 years. An expert from Oxfordshire Archaeology believes that these steps would have been used to access the water for cooking and washing purposes, before the well was finally capped off in the late 1920s.

Now the problem with the pond has been identified, we have to do something about it. Unfortunately, this is an expensive exercise! It has taken over a year to access the funds needed to pay a professional contractor to carry out the work to ‘by-pass’ the underground breach in the water course and to re-direct the water towards the pond.

We will also be re-structuring the banks of the pond to reduce some of the steep sides and create a pond which has greater wildlife value. This work will begin in Autumn 2006. Regular updates will appear on this website.

Karen Woolley, September 2006