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Parks save the seas through the power of nature

02 February 2018

The Green Flag Award celebrates the very best, most well-managed parks and green spaces in the country. Places that are constantly looking to improve their sites now and for future generations. Staff and volunteers are trying new ideas, taking risks, and involving others to improve their sites.

Each year we celebrate the very best innovations occurring across Green Flag Award sites, with our Special Innovation Awards. And each week we are sharing the winners' stories, including Hasting Borough Council's Alexandra Park

Many parks include water as a major feature - ponds, streams, boating lakes or fountains. And eventually the quality of this water affects the quality of the water that runs out to sea. 

Alexandra Park in Hastings has a historic old stream as one of its central features, as well as three ponds and a boating lake. Water from the park runs into a storm water pipe, under the town and discharges to sea at a popular tourist beach. 

The Council's Waterways Improvement Project aimed to improve the bathing water quality going out to sea - and used the power of nature to do it. This innovative, successful project is a very deserving winner of our Special Innovation Award - and a true demonstration of the wider importance of parks.

The aim was to reduce contamination from surrounding sources and mis-connections - naturally cleaning the water before it reaches the sea. Natural treatment of the water included the creation of weirs, wetlands, silt traps, planted stream channels, floating island eco-systems, pond edge treatment and an aeration system sucking water through natural gravel and plant filtration beds.

As a result of the works, stream water now travels through the park more slowly - giving it greater exposure to UV light, beneficial microbes and root filtration. This means the power of nature has more time to revitalise the water quality. And it has resulted in improved bathing water quality on a prime tourist beach. 

Other benefits have included increasing biodiversity, more attractive ponds and streams, increasing aquatic and wildlife habitat and "creating considerable community understanding of the management of our waterway within the park."

Congratulations to everyone involved in this very successful project - a real special innovation.