Windermere South Basin and Windermere North Basin

 

Windermere is well-known as England's largest natural lake. It is often regarded as the most iconic lake in the Lake District it is well known and widely used, providing a focus at the heart of the area's resident and visitor communities.  Locals and visitors alike enjoy the scenery, recreational opportunities, and wildlife it supports.  The landscape of the Windermere catchment attracts in excess of 5 million visitors each year, providing the mainstay of the local economy.

 

The lake has a public right of navigation enjoyed by yachts and motor cruisers. The shoreline is popular for smaller rowing boats and canoes and other general recreation. The lake is well-used for swimming, and hosts the Great North Swim event. There are 3 officially recognised Bathing Waters: at Fellfoot, Lakeside and Millerground, which are regularly monitored each summer for water quality.

 

The lake is also an important site for wildlife and nature conservation. It is home to the Arctic Charr - a cold water fish species surviving in the deeper cold waters, at the southern limit of its British range. The lake also supports brown trout, pike, perch, roach and eels, and salmon and sea trout pass through the lake to spawn in the tributaries. 

 

The needs of the underwater and shoreline plant communities, fish and wintering wildfowl all need to be balanced with all the other demands. For example, old photos show how the reed-fringe around the edge of the lake has reduced and beds of water plants have been lost. For this reason the lake is the subject of a Management Strategy prepared by the LDNPA and SLDC, compiled in consultation with many other organisations who have an active interest in the lake. It was written in 2005, and now in 2010 is currently being reviewed to ensure its relevance for the next 5 years. 

 

Scientifically, the lake is regarded as being 2 separate basins north and south, with different characteristics influenced by the geology hard volcanic rocks in the north basin, and softer shales in the south.

 

The lake has an important place in freshwater science, with a long history of monitoring by the Freshwater Biological Association (from 1945) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (since 1989). The monitoring dates back to conditions prior to the lake receiving significant sewage inputs. Then there was a period of water quality decline linked to the installation of a sewerage network and waste-water treatment works (WwTW) that discharged into the lake. High levels of phosphate triggered algal blooms and associated summer de-oxygenation of the deeper waters, and toxic blue-green algae. Improvements at the WwTW included phosphate removal.

 

Windermere Profile

 

Catchment 

Total area 230.5 km2
Geology Borrowdale Volcanics, to the north Silurian Slates, Grits and Flags to the south.
Land use Several settlements, farm land with deciduous and coniferous forest and fell beyond

 

Lake (north basin)

Maximum depth - 64 m
Mean depth - 25.1 m
Area - 8.05 km2
Volume - 201.8 m3 x 106
Retention Time - 6 months

 

Lake (south basin)

Maximum depth - 42 m
Mean depth - 16.7 m
Area - 6.72 km2
Volume - Unknown
Retention Time - 3 months

 

Current Water Quality Classification

Slightly eutrophic

 

Objectives

1. Reduce P to achieve a mean annual total phosphorus concentration < 10g/L
2. Restore a more natural fish community
3. Identify opportunities to enhance the semi-natural vegetation of the lakeshores and    aquatic macrophyte communities
4. Develop measures to prevent the introduction or the control of the spread of invasive    species
5. Manage sedimentation to a more natural rate within the lake catchment
6. Ensure future water quality suitable for public benefit and enjoyment including meeting EU    bathing standards at relevant sites
7. Promote sustainable management of land use and access for the local community and    visitors
8. Determine future impacts of climate change and take measures to reduce/minimise these    impacts as far as possible through sustainable land management practices

 

Key Actions
Lead Organisation (Other Orgs)
Restore more natural fish biomass and species composition appropriate action to be decided
CEH (FBA)
Draw up proposals to enhance the semi-natural vegetation of the lakeshores taking into account landscape, cultural heritage, agriculture and recreation, and implement agreed enhancement schemes
Windermere Reflections* (LDNPA, NE)
Establish measures to prevent establishment and/or spread of invasive non-native plant species
/
Complete appropriate catchment surveys to identify sediment sources and flows Complete an assessment of the rate of sedimentation in the lake Complete an evaluation of the impacts or benefits of the sedimentation Identify, where appropriate, remedial measures Implement remedial measures
Science Group
Identify and quantify any sedimentation processes affecting the lake and the implications of these for the long-term conservation of the lake
Science Group
Evaluate risk of climate change
WCRP 
Upgrade sewage treatment works, pumping stations and combined sewer overflows
UU
Identify and address nutrient contribution from septic tanks and other non-main sewer sources including river systems
EA (NT, CT, SLDC, UU)
Initiate programme to reduce P inputs from community and tourism
CT (LDNPA, EA, SLDC, NT)
Establish project for restoration of lake shore vegetation including reed beds
FBA (LDNPA, NT, NE)
Control of non native geese (egg pricking etc.)
LDNPA (NT)
Establish sediment studies to investigate re-cycling of P from sediment
Science Group
Implement targeted Catchment Sensitive Farming programme in wider catchment
EA
Improve understanding of nutrient budgets within catchment
Science Group
Carry out measures to protect water quality from oil pollution and surface films
EA & SLDC

 
Glossary

CT - Cumbria Tourism
CEH - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
EA - Environment Agency
FBA - Freshwater Biological Association
LDNPA - Lake District National Park Authority
NE - Natural England
NT - National Trust
SLDC - South Lakes District Council
UU - United Utilities
WCRP - Windermere Catchment Restoration Programme

 

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Gillan Way
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