ONE of Bolton’s bestloved beauty spots will disappear within two weeks after the plug was pulled on a reservoir because it does not meet government safety standards.
The scenic Blue Lagoon near Belmont, loved by Boltonians for more than 100 years, will be nothing more than a large muddy hole in a matter of days.
The 80ft-deep reservoir is being drained by its owners because the Environment Agency says it could be a flood risk.
Belmont resident Damian Appleby, of South View, said the loss of the reservoir would be a tragedy.
He said: “It is not just for Belmont — most of north Bolton use it as well because it is an easy day out.
“It is a nice stretch of water where you can have a picnic and watch the ducks.
“It would be a tragedy if it disappeared.”
Officially known as Ward’s Reservoir, the Blue Lagoon is owned by Belmont Holdings, which is based at the nearby bleach works.
The company commissioned an independent study earlier this year which concluded that the reservoir needs £40,000 of improvement works to bring it up to the standard legally required by the Environment Agency.
A number of remedial actions are recommended, but the main problem is an overflow channel.
The study says it is not wide enough to cope with a huge flood, which, if it happened, would be the biggest in 1,000 years.
Now, after months of deliberation, Belmont Holdings boss Julian Smith has decided to drain the reservoir to avoid potential enforcement action by the Environment Agency.
The water level has already dropped considerably since the plug was pulled two weeks ago, and Mr Smith estimates that it will be empty within another two weeks.
The reservoir can hold 150,000 cubic metres of water and has a surface area of 28,000 square metres when full.
A large part of the reservoir is only a few feet deep, but it sinks to a depth of about 80ft at its lowest point.
He says he will not pay £40,000 for something which has no commercial value, but he is prepared to hand the reservoir over to a trust of local residents, which could apply for grants for the work.
Mr Smith said: “I, personally, will be very upset to see it go, but at the end of the day it comes down to financial considerations.
“It doesn’t make commercial sense to me to spend that sort of money on something that has no commercial value whatsoever.
“Unless I do something, I will be accountable to the Environment Agency.”
More than 100 Belmont residents met in St Peter’s Church on Monday to discuss the future of the reservoir, and about two thirds of those in attendance said they would be interested in supporting a bid to save it.
Cllr Jean Rigby, who organised the meeting, said: “It is a well-known landmark and it would be tragic to see it go, but there is a very real chance that is likely to happen.
“It has been a beauty spot for as long as it has been in existence. I have known it all my life, but if it is drained, it will just be a muddy hole.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said Mr Smith had not been ordered to drain the reservoir, but said the agency will ensure that the remedial work is carried out.
He said: “An independent engineer had a look at the site, and there are measures that need to be taken.”
Mr Smith says that any fish in the reservoir will drain into Ward’s Brook as it empties.
The Environment Agency said he is under no legal obligation to protect wildlife in and around the water.