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Toddbrook: protecting the environment

Did you know that Toddbrook Reservoir is a special place for wildlife and designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since the 1960s?

Why has the reservoir bottom turned green?

If you have seen the reservoir recently, you may have noticed some of the exposed mud flats have turned green. In the video below our ecologist, Tom King, explains why.

In fact, this is thanks to a very rare moss, Dwarf bladder-moss (Physomitrium sphaericum) - a tiny plant that measures only 5mm high. Draining the reservoir has allowed millions of these tiny plants to blossom and enjoy their one month life cycle, as the seeds have been exposed to the air. They don't live underwater but the spores can lie dormant in the mud for decades, ready to spring into life when the water disappears.

This extremely rare plant only grows in a dozen sites in Britain including two other places in Derbyshire at Combs and Ladybower reservoirs. It is the reason for Toddbrook's SSSI designation.

Rescuing fish for the reservoir

Our fisheries officer, Paul Breslin, led a series of fish rescues as the reservoir was drained down in 2019.

Coarse fish, such as bream, roach, perch and pike, were captured in large nets and then transported to another Trust reservoir, Upper Bittell Reservoir, near Birmingham. Upper Bittell Reservoir, which is also a SSSI, was drained and refilled after major works two years ago and is in a good position to re-home large numbers of fish.

It's estimated that about 30,000 fish (5 tonnes) initially made their home in Toddbrook Reservoir. Many were rescued in an emergency operation as the water levels were lowered in August. As fish get distressed in the heat, it was decided to wait until October to move those not in immediate danger.

A final shorter fish rescue then took place in December 2019 to catch some of the remaining fish evading capture in the very bottom or hiding under the pump pontoon.

Toddbrook fish rescue October 2019

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Last Edited: 13 January 2020

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