A MODEL boating club has run aground after an outbreak of algae at a popular city pond turned it into a treacherous weed-choked swamp.
The beauty spot in Green Flag status Inverleith Park has been used by model boat enthusiasts since the 1890s when permission was first granted for its use.
But the water is now so clogged up that the Edinburgh Model Boat Club say it is destroying their lovingly crafted vessels and rendering the water impassible.
Algae and weeds have created a pea-green soup so thick that a motor burnt out less than four feet from the pond’s edge after a boat’s propeller became entangled.
Branding the situation an “environmental disaster”, 78-year-old club member Michael Johnson said: “It’s like a giant cobweb which is thick enough to jam a propeller or rudder.
“It is the only pond in the city where the club is permitted to sail their boats, which is now impossible due to the weeds that have grown.”
He blasted parks chiefs for “abandoning” the pond and demanded urgent action amid claims the problem is worse than it has been in years.
And after being advised of the problem, the council pledged to send a contractor out to remove the algae and clear the weeds.
Environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “Parks staff have met with members of the boat club to discuss how we can help ensure the pond is fully accessible to users. The growth of algae is a seasonal and natural process in shallow water, particularly during the summer’s high temperatures and low rainfall. We are in the process of arranging for a contractor to remove and dispose of the algae, as well as clear paths of weeds.
“We have written to Mr Johnson to assure him that we are committed to resolving this matter, and hope to have the pond cleared in time for the boat club’s August event.”
Pam Barnes, convener of the charity the Friends of Inverleith Park, added: “Last year we cleared lots from the surface and it looked good for a day or so and then was as bad as ever. It is sad for the boat club and it is unsightly.”
In previous years the boat club said it had successfully used lime to keep the weeds at bay but they say that this has now been thwarted by red tape which demands a licence.
A month ago middle-aged and elderly members worked themselves to “exhaustion” to clear the pond only to realise they had “barely scratched the surface”.
The pond was drained by the city in 2003 at a cost of £20,000 after the boat club said swans’ droppings were turning it into a “toxic soup”.
A Keep Scotland Beautiful spokesman said: “We regularly undertake planned and unplanned visits to inspect all of those parks that are part of our Green Flag Award scheme.
“We are in dialogue with the council to ensure that the whole park is managed in line with the award criteria.”