A 7.3 METRE embankment, more sluice gates or turning the reservoir into ponds and wetland habitat are options for the future of Warnham Mill Pond.
Horsham District Council and the Environment Agency face spending up to an estimated £11 million to meet revised safety standards on flooding risk.
This work, hoped to start within the financial year and take a couple of years to complete, will ensure that the operation of the reservoir does not increase the risk of flooding downstream during a very severe rainfall event – seen as a very low risk at one in 10,000 years.
Classified as a reservoir, the mill pond is part of Warnham Local Nature Reserve off Warnham Road in Horsham and is managed by Horsham District Council in partnership with the Environment Agency.
Council chief executive Tom Crowley said a routine inspection revealed the reservoir was in need of attention to meet legislation which sets a ‘very high standard for reservoirs’.
Grant funding of £50,000 was awarded by DEFRA, the government’s Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, for consultants to carry out a detailed study which identified a range of options and potential solutions.
From 11 options, the council and Environment Agency chose three to go forward for consultation. These are to install additional sluice gates, construct higher embankments - two metres above the existing ones - or remove the reservoir embankment.
“All of the options are complicated and highly sensitive, not least as this is a very popular and highly attractive spot,” said Mr Crowley.
“We are very proud of it as a district council. All the options are quite expensive and we are dealing with ballpark figures at the moment.
“We felt it was important to involve the public and stakeholders because of the sensitivity and the cost.”
Consultation meetings and exhibitions start next week and people’s views are sought on the options.
See today’s County Times for more details, dates of exhibitions and how to comment.