LATEST: Mysterious green sheen disappears from river but deeper problem remains

The River Welland turned green yesterday in Spalding. Photo: Tim Wilson (SG030817-100TW)
The River Welland turned green yesterday in Spalding. Photo: Tim Wilson (SG030817-100TW)

The cause of Spalding’s River Welland to suddenly change from its usual colour to a murky green overnight, seems to have vanished as quickly as it appeared.

This morning, the sunlight was bouncing off the river and it looked clear again - on the surface at least.

But Anthony Grunwell, Operations Manager for Spalding Water Taxi, said there remained a problem with thick weed in the river, which was causing problems for the boat’s pilots.

Yesterday (Thursday), he said: “It can get terrible around the propellers. A fortnight ago we had to stop running the water taxi over the Saturday and Sunday because it was so bad. It’s obviously meant a loss of earnings for us and I’ve been in touch with the river inspector because this should not be allowed to happen.

This morning (Friday), he added: “You can still see clumps of it in the river. Ducks are sitting on it. Islands of it drift past my house. I’ve seen a swan sitting on it.

“It brings all the debris down the river with it.”

Anthony said he believed weed cuttings drifting down the river from the direction of Crowland had caused a bottleneck of debris in the town centre.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said it was duckweed that had turned the river green. Duckweeds are small, free-floating aquatic perennials that combine to form a green ‘carpet’ on the surface of the water.

THURSDAY 15.00 hrs

The Spalding Water Taxi was forced to chug through a carpet of green as the River Welland changed colour overnight.

People have been speculating on social media about what could have caused the river to suddenly go green around High Bridge and through the town.

Anthony Grunwell, Operations Manager for Spalding Water Taxi, says it has caused a headache for his team as they have been forced to negotiate around clumps of weed up to two to three foot long.

He said: “It can get terrible around the propellers. A fortnight ago we had to stop running the water taxi over the Saturday and Sunday because it was so bad. It’s obviously meant a loss of earnings for us and I’ve been in touch with the river inspector because this should not be allowed to happen.

“I don’t know how long it will stay like this. It depends on whether they will open the gates. There are two sets of gates - one by Springfields at the end of the Coronation Channel and the lock gates near Bakkavor.”

Anthony believes the colour change has been caused by weed cuttings drifting down the river from the direction of Crowland which has caused a bottleneck of debris in the town centre.

But a spokesperson for the Environment Agency said it is duckweed that has turned the river green.

He said: “This harmless plant grows really quickly under the right conditions – the recent hot weather and rain has been ideal for it. A lot of rivers, canals and other water bodies will get duckweed at this time of year. It’s very visible but generally not a problem in these amounts and will disperse in time.”

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