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Duck feed could beat Mere algae problem

PUBLISHED: 08:04 03 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:42 12 July 2010

Town councillors are looking into the possibility of supplying seed for feeding the ducks in a bid to prevent future outbreaks of toxic blue green algae at a south Norfolk beauty spot.

Town councillors are looking into the possibility of supplying seed for feeding the ducks in a bid to prevent future outbreaks of toxic blue green algae at a south Norfolk beauty spot.

Diss Mere was hit by a toxic bloom in August, when signs were put up warning people to avoid contact with the substance which can cause skin irritation and stomach upsets in humans, and is dangerous for pets which suffer similar symptoms.

The algae spores occur naturally, and overfeeding of the ducks with bread is thought to have been a major factor in the outbreak - the concern being that the bloom may be stronger next year unless measures are taken to reduce nutrient levels in the lake.

Town clerk, Deborah Sarson, has produced a report on the issue and possible solutions.

She said: “Feeding the ducks is a highly emotive issue and I recognise that it is an activity that people have enjoyed for decades and is one of the attractions in Diss, bringing people back into the town.

“I am therefore not recommending that we ban feeding the ducks - rather that we find a compromise which could be beneficial to the town, the birds and the water quality.”

One of the options is to provide a suitable seed mix that could be sold from various outlets in the vicinity of Mere's Mouth, including the tourist information centre. The income generated could be put towards running the mere fountain which helps aerate the water. The cost of providing this facility has proved higher than expected, and the council's amenities and service committee agreed to make savings by rescheduling hours of use.

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