New sluice keeps hydro turbine turning at Springhead

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The hydro turbine installed at the Springhead Trust’s lake helps the charity to reduce its carbon footprint, by generating renewable electricity. However, accumulating weeds, leaves and sticks have been clogging up the system which has at times resulted in it being shut down. Now, thanks to The Naturesave Trust and the Southall Trust, the charity has been able to install a new sluice gate to deal with this problem and to help regulate the flow of water

The picturesque lake at Springhead, in Fontmell Magna, is an old mill pond, and water here has powered corn, cloth and timber mills since before the Domesday survey. As well as being a valuable part of the historic landscape, the lake is important for wildlife and is enjoyed by groups of school children and other visitors to Springhead. The lake is fed from the site’s natural springs which bubble up from the ground, and water flows from the lake, under the mill building, into the Fontmell Brook, and on down into the village and to a series of mill ponds. 

Regulating the flow of the water is essential in order to avoid flooding of Springhead’s historic mill building and areas further downstream, explains Springhead’s Site Manager, Alf Pyrke: ‘The new sluice gate channels water through a pipe to the turbine, acts as an automatic height regulator, and stops debris building up. We’re extremely grateful to the two grant-making bodies which part-funded this work, as it means we’re now able to keep our hydro turbine moving. This allows us to generate electricity which reduces our carbon footprint, helps us educate our visitors about renewable energy, and saves money which means we have more to spend on our charitable activities.’

‘Getting the new sluice gate installed wasn’t an easy task’ however, he continues, ‘as it involved creating a dam using scaffolding and plastic sheeting, and then draining out the water from the section of the lake closest to the mill building.’ The charity now plans to fundraise for equipment to fully automate the system.