A project to give a Worthing lake an environmental makeover has started, with the water being drained to dry out the silt at the bottom.
Hundreds of fish have already been temporarily moved upstream at Brooklands Lake to protect them while the excavation takes place.
Staff from Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, commissioned by Worthing Borough Council, began draining water from the eight-acre lake early last week, ahead of dredging work which will start later this month.
The lake is being drained to dry out the 15,000 cubic metres of silt at the bottom – the equivalent of six Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The dried-out dirt will then be used to create new margins and an extra island to provide an habitat for birds and other wildlife.
The project is expected to take 12 weeks, weather permitting.
Teams from the contractors said there was already good news, with a variety of species found to be living in the lake rescued and preserved despite the environmental concerns from local residents.
Jacob Dew, Five Rivers’ project manager for the site, said: “It’s been a busy first few days on site.
“We found a range of fish including roach, carp and eels and have looked after them, moving them into the top end of the Teville Stream.
“And because the silt is so deep, we have put up temporary fencing to protect people and their animals.
“We’re really excited about this project and looking forward to moving this forward.
“We’re really keen to get locals involved as much as possible.
“Watch this space and we will keep you all updated.”
Concerns about the environmental impact of the build-up of silt in the lake resulted in the council approving an action plan to deal with the issue last December.
An £850,000 budget for the project was approved by councillors in June.
To avoid similar problems in future, Five Rivers will be narrowing the Teville stream in Valley Gardens and in front of the Brooklands cafe to increase water flow.
Silt traps will also be installed to help stop debris finding its way to the bottom of the lake.
Councillor Diane Guest, Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “I’m really excited by these plans from Five Rivers.
“I am confident the company will restore the lake to its full glory and help improve the park for generations to come.
“I will be watching the work with a great deal of excitement.”