The parlous state of many of our chalkstreams and their aquifers has once again been highlighted by what is currently happening to those in the Chiltern Hills of SE England (and see some of our recent blog posts on relevant science, here). The Chess at Chesham has been dry for a year (see photo below) and the EA report the lowest October groundwater levels on record for this catchment. Abstraction and relatively low rainfall are crippling the Chess and its neighbouring chalkstreams such as the Colne, Gade, Misbourne and Ver.
There’s more on this truly disturbing story on the website of the River Chess Association. The RCA Chairman and tireless campaigner for these rivers, Paul Jennings, says “In my view, permitted abstraction levels in the light of changed weather patterns are now unsustainable and if we want healthy chalk streams then water companies must be required to find alternative sources of water for their customers”.
If you haven’t read it yet, find Charles Rangeley-Wilson’s emotive piece for WWF, including a portfolio of photos that tell the story better than any words: https://www.wildtrout.org/news/dying-and-drying-chalk-streams