Work to fully drain a reservoir as part of a project to remove tonnes of litter from its waters has been slightly delayed.

Welsh Harp Reservoir, which offers a natural open space between Brent and Barnet, was set to have its water drained as of yesterday (October 30).

But after the paper visited the site, the Canal and River Trust has clarified that the process to remove the water will now not start until the middle of November.

A spokesperson said that once this does commence the site will not look “particularly dramatic” as the whole process is likely to take four weeks.

Brent & Kilburn Times: A look at the water near the Hendon side, after a visit on October 31, 2023A look at the water near the Hendon side, after a visit on October 31, 2023 (Image: Joseph Reaidi)

They continued: “The reservoir contains over 1 million cubic metres of water – enough to fill 400 Olympic swimming pools. The trust will drain the reservoir in a slow and controlled way using the sluice gates.

“Our contractor is now on site and we are working with the Environment Agency to ensure all the necessary environmental safeguards are in place. We anticipate the draining to start by the middle of November.”

The reason for the date change is due to some formalities taking “slightly longer than anticipated”.

Brent & Kilburn Times: Welsh Harp ReservoirWelsh Harp Reservoir (Image: Joseph Reaidi)

The contractors are set up on site as per the schedule, with habitat improvements at the East Marsh already completed.

On the Canal and River Trust website, a message reads: “We aim to have the reservoir re-filled by the end of February 2024.”

Its owner the trust says that major works will be taken place to improve “one of the capital’s most important urban wildlife spaces” after issues were identified during a 2021 inspection.

Other than the draining of water, it’s estimated that the overall clean-up could take several months.

During this time essential repairs will take place including fixing the chains and rods that operate the reservoir’s sluices and repainting the Valve House Tower.

Brent & Kilburn Times: Welsh Harp ReservoirWelsh Harp Reservoir (Image: Joseph Reaidi)

A fish rescue operation will also be carried out while the water is drained and volunteers clear out the rubbish.

Volunteer clean-up events will take place on November 10 and November 22 and anyone wishing to help are encouraged to visit:

Ros Daniels, director for London & South East, explains: “The Welsh Harp, with Brent Reservoir at its heart, is one of London's most significant urban wild spaces. We are planning to carry out these essential statutory repairs to the reservoir's structures over the winter months so as not to impact nesting birds, including great crested grebes.

“The reservoir will remain open to the public throughout the works, but signs will be up warning people not to walk onto the reservoir's drained area and mud.

“Sadly we are expecting to see a lot of rubbish again when the reservoir is fully drained, just as we did back in January 2021, when we partially drained the reservoir to inspect the dam and Valve House.

“We’d like to work with volunteers and our partners to take the opportunity to clear as much of the rubbish that will be revealed as possible, and we are planning to launch a crowd funding campaign to help support that work.”

It is hoped that £15,000 will be raised to help fund the operation, at the moment of publication £3,545 has been publicly raised.

To donate to the crowd funder, visit: