Mere matter of education?

An education campaign is set to be launched in a bid to prevent a fresh outbreak of toxic blue-green algae at a south Norfolk beauty spot.The harmful spore, which has become a regular summertime problem at Diss Mere, can cause skin irritation and stomach upsets in humans and can prove fatal to dogs and fish stocks, if it blooms out of control.

An education campaign is set to be launched in a bid to prevent a fresh outbreak of toxic blue-green algae at a south Norfolk beauty spot.

The harmful spore, which has become a regular summertime problem at Diss Mere, can cause skin irritation and stomach upsets in humans and can prove fatal to dogs and fish stocks, if it blooms out of control.

Town officials are now set to begin a new offensive to try to educate people that feeding the birds can also fuel blue-green algae levels.

Diss Town Council is planning to place a new information board at the Mere's Mouth and to hold talks with local schoolchildren about the sensitive environmental balance of the picturesque water feature.


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Deborah Sarson, town clerk, said there was no simple solution to solving the blue-green algae problem and completely draining and dredging the Mere was 'completely out of the question'. She added that it was also 'impractical' to ban the feeding of the birds at the Mere.

'The town council recognises that the age-old tradition of feeding the birds is a favourite activity for all generations and is a major attraction for bringing people into the town. Instead, the town council intends to embark on a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and educate the public about how to be responsible about feeding the birds,' she said.

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The town's last blue-green algae bloom was in August as a result of a potent combination of warm weather, sunlight and increased nutrient levels, caused by bread and bird droppings.

Mrs Sarson said the council was hoping to deter people from buying loaves of bread from the nearby Somerfield supermarket and tipping them into the Mere. The council is also set to approach local retailers about selling more nutrient-friendly pellets for feeding the ducks.

'The Mere is a gem in the heart of our town and we need to do everything we can to look after it and the wildlife it supports,' she said.

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