THE amount of work needed to make Windermere sewage-free has been revealed for the first time.

The Save Windermere campaign, led by Matt Staniek, has called for all sewage outputs in the lake to be removed similar to Lake Annecy in France.

Mr Staniek argues that Windermere is a special case based on its cultural significance and the ecology of the lake, which means that water does not flow through the catchment quickly. 

The campaign pins United Utilities as the main source of phosphorus input, which can lead to large blue-green algal blooms in the lake. Mr Staniek has even taken to protesting outside the United Utilities Information Centre in Windermere every Monday morning.  

The Mail: Matt Staniek, front rightMatt Staniek, front right (Image: Matt Staniek/Twitter)

Now a United Utilities spokesperson has laid bare how much work would be needed to make the lake sewage-free.

"We have been engaging with campaigners and community stakeholders and we have heard the calls for a sewage-free Windermere, along a similar model to Lake Annecy in France.  We have undertaken a review of the system at Annecy and developed a high-level engineering design to replicate it at Windermere," said the spokesman.

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“We have presented this review and engineering design to a number of stakeholders, including to Matt Staniek.  That engagement work is ongoing to understand the level of potential support for such a major infrastructure solution – on a par with Lake Annecy - that would see an end to every single discharge going into Windermere whether that be from United Utilities operations, the dozens of private wastewater treatment plants along the shoreline, the 1,800 individual septic tanks and other run off into the lake, including from agriculture.

“The plan would involve 67km of new pipeline around the perimeter of the lake, a 1.1km tunnel under and across the bed of the lake, a new wastewater treatment works at Grange over Sands and a construction timeline of around 10 – 15 years.

"The impact on the environment, road network and the local economy would be significant and there is currently no funding mechanism or regulatory framework that would support work on this scale across such a wide range of organisational and individual accountability.

“In the meantime, United Utilities is continuing with our existing plans to improve our impact on the lake - reducing storm water spills into Windermere and making an early start on a £41m programme that will see improvement work at Elterwater, Hawkshead, Near Sawrey and Ambleside.”