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Guidance for de-silting ponds

​What this guidance covers

This guidance is for anyone responsible for de-silting ponds, this could be an owner carrying out work or a contractor working on behalf of someone else and includes all ponds, from smaller domestic garden ponds to larger ponds used for irrigation purposes.

This guidance:

  • can help you to minimise the environmental impact of the activity on the pond and downstream waters
  • provides information about the ecological importance of ponds
  • shows you how to complete a method statement, this is a document identifying issues and providing appropriate steps to protect the pond and any downstream waters
  • raises awareness of the legislative requirements that may apply to you

Ecological importance of ponds

A pond is defined in this guidance as a man-made or natural body of water, which holds water for all or part of the year.  The sizes of a pond can be as small as 1 m2 and reach in excess of 50,000 m2 in area.

Ponds are highly diverse habitats, supporting aquatic and terrestrial life. They provide drinking water, flood protection, a source of food (in the form of insects and plants) and shelter from the surrounding plants and trees. Ponds support two thirds of all freshwater species. Maintaining ponds is one of the most effective ways to protect freshwater wildlife.

Wildlife ponds, introduction and management advice

Preparing a method statement 

A method statement is an important written document that you should prepare before de-silting begins in order to plan the work. 

Your method statement should:

  • provide details of the company / individual who will carry out the work and their responsibilities
  • provide the reason for de-silting the pond (for example - what are you trying to achieve?)
  • include a description of the activity and how it will be undertaken

When creating your method statement you must also:

  • consider minimising any negative impact on the pond’s ecology, by carrying out the work outside the breeding season for pond species, which is ideally late summer or early autumn (between September and November). If you wish to carry out work outside of this time, contact us, because there may be additional work needed to protect species. There is a statutory responsibility to do this when the species is protected by the Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2021
  • be aware of invasive species when de-silting ponds and consider where the silt is disposed of and the potential risks associated with this
  • consider undertaking pre and post monitoring of the ponds species and water quality to show the effect of the de-silting process
  • assess whether the activity has the potential to cause pollution
  • assess how the waste sediment / vegetation will be disposed of
  • calculate how much waste sediment will be generated to help estimate the area required for applying to land and / or the cost of disposal
  • assess the need to analyse the sediment within the pond. If the sediment is to be spread on agricultural or other land, it's important to determine whether chemical analysis of the sediment is required. The analysis will establish the nutrient value of the sediment and show if it's contaminated
  • check if any legislative permissions are required
  • identify and inform any landowners or users of your planned work, for example, those abstracting water for irrigation or drinking water, of the natural water assets downstream

Legal requirements for your method statement

When developing a method statement you'll need to consider the following legal requirements:

Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000

The Water Pollution Law provides for the control of pollution in Jersey waters.

​Silt may appear harmless because it is not directly toxic to aquatic life. It can however cause serious damage if washed down into streams, ponds, reservoirs

Deposits of silt can:

  • cause problems with flooding
  • reduce the growth of aquatic plants
  • reduce the oxygen content of the water
  • clog the gills of aquatic animals and fish

Ponds which form part of a stream system and those near to a stream (where silt might enter) are considered to be at high risk from silt pollution during pond de-silting.

Preventing water pollution from occurring should be included within the method statement prior to any work commencing.

Silt pollution can be caused by disturbing a pond or stream banks, removal of vegetation and the movement of plant within or near a stream / pond.

To minimise the risk of silt pollution occurring, you should use methods that, where possible, do not contaminate surface water.

These include:

  • for more frequent desilting purposes create a silt trap or settlement pond that can be constructed upstream of the main pond. This will reduce the quantity of silt entering into the pond in the first place
  • using isolation methods to keep the water away from the areas of work, such as, creating a dam to stop water flowing into the pond. Then pumping the water around the pond or creating by-pass channels, prior to the de-silting process starting
  • only remove necessary vegetation from the bank of the pond, 
  • prior to de-silting
  • any water containing silt and other suspended material must undergo a settlement or filtration process before being discharged. The treatment method to dispose of contaminated water will depend on:
    • the amount of water
    • the land available for treatment, discharge or storage
    • the type and quantity of silt
    • the presence of contaminants in the water. This activity may require a discharge permit, contact Environmental Protection for advice
    • continually monitor and review the environmental impact of your work and update your management plan as necessary
    • it is important to have a contingency plan in place in the event of pollution occurring. If pollution occurs please contact the pollution hotline on +44 (0) 1534 709535

If heavy plant is being used to excavate the pond, make sure a spill kit is available to use in the event of oil spill in the watercourse.

Pollution prevention guidelines on the GOV.UK website

​If you're unsure whether or not your proposed action requires permission, contact Environmental Protection for advice.

Tel: +44 (0) 1534 441600


Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2021

The Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2021 provides for the conservation of wild animals, wild birds and wild plants in Jersey.

Species that are listed in the Schedules to the Law include toads, frogs and other pond dwelling species. The law protects these animals and the places they breed from harmful activities, such as de-silting a pond that may require a licence. A method of working to avoid harm should be developed and in some cases an ecological survey may be required.
Protected species and wildlife licensing

Wildlife ponds, introduction and management advice

If you're unsure whether or not your proposed action is against the Law, contact Natural Environment for advice.

Tel: +44 (0) 1534 441600


Waste Management (Jersey) Law 2005

The Waste Management (Jersey) Law provides for the control and management of waste operations within Jersey.

​You may require a waste management licence to deposit silt on land.
Waste means any substance, including sediment and vegetation removed from a pond, which is discarded. Waste sediment should either be:
  • disposed of at a site licenced under the Law
  • spread on land if the use of the waste is beneficial to the environment or to agriculture, for example, on farm land by recycling nutrients to the soil in accordance with a nutrient management plan. Such spreading is permitted under an exemption and can only take place where it can be shown to be beneficial and does not amount to waste disposal
Analysis of the silt may be required where there is a risk of contamination of the agricultural or other land where silt is spread. Ponds can accumulate sediments that can be hazardous where runoff is from agricultural land or roads and urban land. 
The scale of the de-silting operation and is a key factor in determining controls under the law. For example, small quantities of silt which can be deposited on the adjacent banks of a pond or watercourse will be exempt as long as the activity does not significantly endanger human health, the environment or flora or fauna.
If you're treating silts and vegetation, by mixing or screening, or dewatering silts, for example by storing in lagoons, before moving to other sites you should contact us for further advice about compliance. 
​If you're unsure whether or not your proposed action requires permission, contact GHE Regulation, Waste Regulation for advice.
Tel: +44 (0) 1534 441600

Water Resources (Jersey) Law 2007

The Water Resources (Jersey) Law provides for the protection, management and regulation of water resources in Jersey.

You may require a water resources licence to impound water if you propose to create a new impoundment or alter an existing impoundment in such a way that will alter the level, flow or character of water in a source of supply or affect wildlife or plants dependent on the source of water. Examples include a dam on a stream, diverting a stream course or creating an irrigation reservoir. Planning permission may also be required.
If you're unsure whether or not your proposed action requires permission, contact Environmental Protection.
Tel: +44 (0) 1534 441600

Planning and Building (Jersey) Law 2002

The Planning and Building (Jersey) Law provides the means for the control and sustainable development of land. To provide the means to protect, enhance and conserve and to use wisely the natural beauties, natural resources and biodiversity of Jersey.

​Planning permission may be required to:
  • dispose of materials removed from a pond to surrounding land
  • store materials, however temporary
  • any subsequent re-use of the materials within the land
​If you're unsure whether or not your proposed activity requires planning permission contact us for advice, prior to any work starting.
Tel: +44 (0) 1534 445508

Useful websites

The following websites have lots of helpful information available:

Ponds, pools and lochans on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency website

FAQs silted up ponds on the Freshwater Habitats UK website

Pollution Prevention Guidelines on the GOV.UK website

Wildlife and habitat management on the GOV.UK website

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