MTS help restore historic roadside pond in Winchester

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Southern Water and its supplier MTS Cleansing Services have helped empty and refill a historic roadside pond to encourage wildlife to thrive there.

Weeke Pond, which sits alongside the B3049 Stockbridge Road in Winchester, had become clogged with silt and debris having not been cleared for several years.

The pond's existence has been traced back more than 400 years in the village of Weeke which has now been integrated into Winchester as the city has expanded.

For the past 17 years the pond has been cared for by volunteer guardian Maurice Charrett who was trained as a pond warden by Southern Water back in 2002.

Maurice set up a team of volunteers to help monitor and care for the pond.

Over the years it has been emptied and refilled three times but due to a lack of funding the last time was 11 years ago and it had filled almost 50 per cent with silt.

Maurice said: "The pond is quite unusual in that it is fed purely by rainwater and run-off from the road.

"That means that we have had to install filters to remove harmful pollutants from oil and petrol and, because of its modern addition of concrete lining, we have had to install mats woven with plants to encourage wildlife.

"We have had a lot of support from Winchester City Council, a £3,000 grant from Hampshire County Council via councillor Phrynette Dickens, from Sparsholt College, Selwood of Chandler's Ford as well as a donation from Southern Water's Community Chest.

"Getting the pond cleared will give it a good chance for the future but I am 80 now and unfortunately I am having to give up caring for it but I hope that someone else will take it on."

With the agreement of the Environment Agency, a tanker from MTS emptied the pond of 21,000 gallons of water and silt and deposited it in slurry tanks at Sparsholt College.

The pond was then refilled using water from the college's fish hatchery.

Kevin Buck, who organises Southern Water's Community Chest donations, said: "Helping local good causes like the Weeke Pond volunteers is exactly the kind of thing Community Chest was set up to do.

"The pond suffers from its proximity to the road but it benefits from the care and attention that Maurice and the other volunteers give it and we are delighted to be able to help them."

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