Park rats not the cause of seawater pollution

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I WAS surprised to read the letter from Mr Beard in last week’s paper (Observer Letters, April 8), which appears to blame the sea water quality on rats in Alexandra Park.

That is absolutely not the case. The Environment Agency report relates to the whole water catchment area that drains into the stream which runs through Alexandra Park.

This includes a large part of Hastings and the part of the stream that runs through Alexandra Park is only a small part of the water courses in the catchment area.

The report does not say that the stream in Alexandra Park is the source of the pollution.

The report states that surveys into the water quality were undertaken between 2007 and 2010 but “no specific sources of contamination could be identified” and investigations were ongoing into the sources of faecal material.

It also makes clear that discharges from a number of storm overflows are connected to the outfall pipe on the beach and could be a source of contamination during periods of heavy rainfall.

Southern Water’s foul sewer pipes run alongside water courses in the catchment in at least three places.

Our management practice in Alexandra Park is very good and I am confident that there are no sources of contamination from the work we do there.

We do not allow the routine use of pesticides/herbicides and we manage/monitor the water quality of the ponds by establishing pond plants to improve water quality and by using barley straw to control algae.

The letter concentrates mainly on assumed problems with rats.

The council does control the number of rats in the park and it is visited regularly by our pest control officer.

This has been ongoing for some time and measures are in place to avoid the contamination of the water courses.

There is not a large population of rats and therefore there is a very low risk of faecal contamination from this source.

In conclusion, Alexandra Park itself is not the source of water contamination that the Environment Agency report identifies and it is safe for families to use.

The council is taking steps to control the number of rats and any contamination that the Environment Agency has identified is coming from elsewhere in the catchment area of the stream.

The Environment Agency is continuing to investigate the sources of the problem and will report its findings in due course.

CLLR TREVOR WEBB

Lead member for amenities and leisure

Hastings Borough Council