A SEVERN Trent Water worker didn’t expect to be carrying swans around when he arrived at the Lodge Pool in Redditch for work, on Sunday, July 20.
But the actions of a vandal pushed Lee Birch and a host of locals into an emergency drive to save the lives of swans and fish, as millions of gallons of water had been released from the pool.
The Lodge Pool is a small reservoir in the middle of a housing estate in Lodge Park. As well as being home to hundreds of fish, swans and local wildlife, it helps to protect nearby homes from flooding and is filled by rainwater and natural springs. Loved by residents, it is used every day by dog walkers and residents enjoying the sunshine or going fishing.
Mr Birch, network technician at Severn Trent, said: "When I arrived at the pool a member of the fishing club asked if I was here to lock a gate to the pond outlet. I was confused as I was there for another job, but I drove down to see what he meant.
"I was shocked – the pool had been emptied – with nearly two foot of water drained away. There was mud and mess everywhere.
“Together we all went into action. I called my managers to site and we worked together with the Environment Agency, following their advice closely.
"While I was waiting to receive more information, Wychbold Swan Rescue asked for our help. They were there to rescue and remove swans from the pool to protect them. There were two adults and two young signets. We immediately assisted in helping and putting the swans into a safe environment. I carried one of the signets to safety.
“The following day, we went back to the pool to clean up. While we were working we came across around 25 small fish. Luckily they had been held up in a pool of water that had formed under the debris, so we quickly gathered them up and put them back into the pool. There’s been thousands of pounds of damaged caused at the pool, it is so sad. I’m really pleased to say that we’re now going to refill the pool with treated water from our site – that way, the fish, the swans and all of the local environment can get back to normal. We hope this will make a big difference to the local community and we’re working with the police to help prevent this from happening again.”
Mr Birch was part of a large team of people who helped after the pool was emptied. Organisations include the Wychbold Swan Rescue, the Environment Agency, the police and Lodge Pool Angling Association, along with caring residents.