Blow for Mepal Outdoor Centre as toxic algae discovered in lake

Mepal Outdoor Centre which is being refurbished in preparation for its re-opening

Mepal Outdoor Centre which is being refurbished in preparation for its re-opening - Credit: Archant

A SPORTS and recreation centre trying to get back on its feet after closing over the winter has suffered a fresh blow after toxic algae was discovered in a lake.

Mepal Outdoor Centre was closed on Monday after suspicions among staff were raised about the presence of algae on the surface of the centre’s 20-acre lake.

The Environment Agency was called in and tests confirmed that there was “significant levels” of toxic blue-green algae in the water, which can cause rashes and vomiting if swallowed. The algae is also harmful to animals.

Although indoor and land-based activities are continuing as normal, the lake could remain closed for weeks or months while the algae disperses, putting at risk thousands of the centre’s lake bookings.

A statement released by the centre said: “Mepal Outdoor Centre has been notified that the Environment Agency have tested the lake and found blue-green algae present. We appreciate that you may be concerned regarding the operation of water activities during this time and we wish to reassure you that sensible precautions have been taken to mitigate any risks.

“Any change in weather conditions will mean that the algae will naturally disappear and once given the all clear through Environment Agency testing the lake can be used again. It is difficult to predict how long the algae will be present but as a guide the lake was closed for two weeks in 2012.”

The blow comes just months after the centre re-opened to the public after a high profile period of closure over the winter.

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The centre was facing almost certain closure in October last year after East Cambridgeshire District Council refused requests for an £85,000 grant to cover the centre over the winter.

The outdoor centre was spared however, when the trust entered into a working arrangement with Cambridgeshire ACRE, which offered to bring expertise in the management of community-run organisations.

For more information, contact the centre on 01354 692251.