1,000 sign petition for Severn Trent to clean up deadly pool

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on Severn Trent Water to clean-up a polluted pool which has proven deadly to wildlife.

Dead Canada geese, as seen at the pond in July
Dead Canada geese, as seen at the pond in July

The petition is asking the sewage company to take action over Smethwick Hall Park, where 35 birds died in one month.

Ian Carroll, the petition's author, says Severn Trent Water should pay to remove contaminated silt from the pool – which he claims is the source of the birds' illnesses.

He claims the silt was contaminated by raw human sewage, which has leaked into the water at least twice this year. He says this has caused birds to contract botulism. In some cases, the serious illness has proven fatal to birds.

But Mr Carroll, from Swan Watch, says no clean-up action has taken place because Severn Trent Water and Sandwell Council are in dispute over costs.

However Sandwell Council has now confirmed it is in the process of seeking contractors to establish costs for the job.

The RSPCA confirmed it has been called out numerous times this year to reports of seriously ill birds – and even to collect the dead bodies of birds – at Smethwick Hall Park.

Sandwell Council figures show 30 Canada geese, four ducks and one coot died there between July 17 and August 16.

Suffering

Writing on the petition's website, Mr Carroll said: "Many birds and others are flying off and falling ill at other parks, such as Victoria Park, Smethwick, and West Smethwick Park.

"The birds are suffering slow and painful deaths. The total number (of deaths) at the three parks is now into three figures.

"They (Severn Trent Water) should pay to desilt this pool (at Smethwick Hall Park) to stop any further deaths of birds; and give confidence to the community that they are no longer going to cause any forms of pollution through their networks."

Raw sewage has leaked into the pool at least twice this year. The first was in January when Seven Trent Water found misconnections within its sewage network. This was fixed with a bung being placed on a pipe, said an Environment Agency report.

The second was in May when sewage was released accidentally into the water, said a Severn Trent Water spokesman.

Since May, the sewage company said there has been no more reports of contamination at the site. Severn Trent Water also disputes claims that the botulism cases have been caused by polluted water.

Disease

A Severn Trent Water spokesman said: "Following extensive testing, it’s clear that the birds at Smethwick Pool died as a result of avian botulism.

"This disease is not commonly associated with domestic sewage of the type that was released accidentally in May.

"We continue to offer our expertise to Sandwell Council and the Environment Agency as they work to improve conditions at the pool."

Avian botulism is a paralytic and often fatal disease caused by ingestion of toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

Government body, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, say it is "often found in lakes in periods of anoxic conditions and poor water quality".

Two petitions have been launched by Mr Carroll with the other sent to Sandwell Council.

The second petition, containing around 400 signatures, is also calling on Sandwell Council to pay for the desilting of the park.

He says the two petitions are part of a "two-pronged" attack aiming to make the authorities "pull their finger out and take action".

He added: "I have launched two petitions because they are both blaming one another."

A Sandwell Council spokesman said: "We are in the process of seeking suitably qualified contractors to quote for a cost of removing silt from the pond.

"Once we have completed this process we, along with our partners, will need to see costings before any final decision can be made on the removal of silt.

"We continue to work with all partners including Severn Trent on this matter."

To view the petition, visit change.org

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