Thriving islands float wildlife's boat
2nd September 2020
Innovative floating islands that were installed as a part of a major North Tyneside flood reduction scheme, are already teeming with wildlife one year on.
It’s been great to deliver a project which has had such an innovative approach to water management. The floating ecosystems require minimal maintenance after installation and the tough structure provides a solid basis for supporting the plants, which can withstand very strong water currents.”
Almost 20 different species of native shrubs and aquatic plants are thriving on the three floating islands, which were fixed to the centre of Killingworth Lake in March 2019. They were installed as part of the final phase of a joint £6m flood reduction project, carried out by Northumbrian Water, North Tyneside Council, the Environment Agency and supply partners Esh-Stantec.
Esh-Stantec, a joint venture between Esh Construction and Stantec – set up to deliver Northumbrian Water Group’s Water and Wastewater Infrastructure design and build framework – completed construction work on the scheme last year. The project will help to increase flood protection to more than 3,500 homes in Killingworth and Longbenton with benefits already being seen during times of heavy rainfall, where grassed storage basins help to reduce the impact of surface water flooding locally.
Made from 100 per cent biodegradable coconut coir, recycled water pipes, and stainless steel connections, the aim of the wetland ecosystems was to improve biodiversity on the lake, creating important new nesting areas for water birds, and a natural habitat and food for a variety of wildlife and fish.
The islands also help to keep the lake’s water clear naturally, with the growing plant roots sucking up excess nutrients and cleansing the water.
David Pratt, Framework Director for Esh-Stantec said: “It’s been great to deliver a project which has had such an innovative approach to water management. The floating eco-systems require minimal maintenance after installation and the tough structure provides a solid basis for supporting the plants, which can withstand very strong water currents.”
“This is the first time we’ve used floating eco-systems like these, which were designed, built, and installed by specialist contractors Biomatrix Water. After engaging with the local community, it was great to see the eco-systems planted up by pupils from West Moor Primary School.”
Northumbrian Water’s Project Manager, Lynn Preston, said: “At Northumbrian Water we’re passionate about enhancing the environment and it was great to be able to install something as part of this three-year partnership project that mimics what nature has perfected.
“They offer food for fish and are hopping with birds, as well as keeping the lake clean and clear. In addition to reducing the risk of flooding in the area, we’re proud this project has delivered some wonderful community benefits such as these islands and it’s great to see them thriving.”
Biomatrix Project Manager, Jamie Gordon, said: “As the Killingworth Lake project has shown, floating ecosystems can bring a variety of transformative benefits to urban water bodies, not only creating an urban wilderness where a variety of species can thrive amongst humans, but functioning to improve water quality and increasing local amenity.
“It was also a pleasure seeing the local schoolchildren connect with the ethos of the project and gain some hands-on experience”