Work to clear 30,000 tonnes of silt from a Somerset lake has started.
North Somerset Council has been granted permission for the dredging at Weston-super-Mare as part of a £700,000 project, which also aims to revitalise Clevedon and Portishead’s coastal lakes.
Jan Doyle, from volunteer group Mudlarks, said one of the important aspects of getting Marine Lake sorted was the provision of free swimming.
The lake is due to re-open in June.
Ms Doyle said re-opening the lake will assist the town in “levelling up”.
She said: “Weston has certain socio-economic problems… so to have an asset like this is going to be wonderful.
“And we have teachers ready to give cold-water swimming lessons to adults and children.”
The lake is being dredged by specialist equipment from the Netherlands, which breaks up the mud and pushes it through a long hose out to sea.
Councillor Mike Solomon said it has been “frustrating” waiting for the necessary Marine Management Organisation licence but he is “excited” for the work to begin.
Ms Doyle said: “It’s going to be a spectacle to watch.”
She said according to the licence the dredging has to be finished by the middle of May, then the new sluice gates will go in which, unlike the old ones, will be able to open.
Stuck in the mud
Weston Marine Lake dates back to the 1920s but has been unsuitable for swimming in recent years due to muddy waters caused by broken sluice gates.
It was reopened following some improvements last year but was shut shortly after when a swimmer became stuck in the mud and there were concerns for the water quality.
Ms Doyle said she swims with lots of people who have suffered from depression and mental health problems, “but swimming every day through the year has [really helped them].
“It’s fantastic, you get such a buzz”, she added.
A section of Knightstone Road is being shut on Thursday to allow space for the dredging equipment to be moved into place.