Sonning Eye gravel pit is one of the Caversham Lakes, a string of lakes situated in the South Oxfordshire parish of Eye & Dunsden between the Reading suburb of Caversham and the village of Sonning Eye, just north of the River Thames. Caversham Lakes were originally created as a result of gravel extraction in the floodplain of the River Thames by Lafarge (formerly Redland plc) and processed through their Sonning Gravel Works. Behind the lakes the land rises steeply and is mainly arable farmland.
The Caversham Lakes Trust, part of the English Sports Council, was set up to administer the lakes for rowing, motor boating, sailing, water skiing and angling. The largest lake, that was created by the selective dredging and reclamation of part of the Caversham Lakes, is The Redgrave and Pinsent rowing lake, named after the Olympic rowers Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. It opened in 2006 and is used by the GB Rowing team as their main base at which to train.
The Caversham Lakes support a wide variety of fish species including Bream, Carp, Perch, Pike, Tench and Eels. In addition the lakes provide an important habitat for wintering birds. Large numbers of different birds have been seen on the lakes including Black-backed Gulls, Mallard, Teal, Tern Sandpiper, Shelduck, Smew and a Bittern.
The lake has a surface area of 0.558 Km2 and a mean depth of 1.9m. As a consequence of the lake being formed from the extraction of sand and gravel with the resulting void being allowed to flood naturally through the influx of groundwater, the Environment Agency have given the water body the Hydromorphological designation of being an Artificial Lake.
In addition, the gravel pit area lies within the Sheeplands Groundwater Vulnerable Zone and that the conclusion was that most of the Nitrate pollution load was of agricultural origin.
Environment Agency Classification for the Sonning Eye gravel pit
|2009 Cycle 1||2016 Cycle 2||Objectives|
|Water body status overall||Good||Good||Good by 2015*|
|Ecological Status||Good||Good||Good by 2015*|
|Chemical Status||Does not require assessment||Good||Good by 2015*|
*As reported in Environment Agency's WFD Classification Status Cycle 2 v3 data set published 18th May 2017.
Whilst both the Chemical and Biological status in 2016 were defined as Good there was insufficient information particularly of the biological and physiochemical components to support the classification being raised to High. Both the Ecological and Chemical Status of the lakes are predicted to remain at Good.
You can find out more about the classification of rivers in our catchment by using the Environment Agency’s Catchment Data Explorer.