Chalk Streams First coalition calls for proposal to be adopted on rare and precious Chiltern chalk streams

In early 2020 the Chalk Streams First a coalition of NGOs including the Angling Trust launched its proposal for re-naturalising the flows in the Chiltern chalk streams.  The proposal involves reducing abstraction from the headwaters of these precious chalk steams, allowing the improved flows to make their way down stream to the Thames and Lea where the water would be pumped into the existing London reservoirs. The proposal allows the chalk stream flows to be largely re-naturalised, with public water supplies taken instead from much larger and less ecologically sensitive river reaches further down the Thames catchment. In this way, there could be large reductions in the damaging chalk stream abstractions, with only a relatively small requirement for costly replacement water sources.

The proposal is founded on the exhaustive work of hydrologist John Lawson who was commissioned to produce a report that demonstrates how headwater abstraction is robbing the Chiltern’s rivers of critical flows, without which they cannot function naturally.

John Lawson’s Report

The water companies are in the process of consulting on their draft Water Resources Management Plans (WRMPs) and the Chalk Streams First coalition have responded with the proposal to give the chalk streams first use of the waters in their aquifers shifting abstraction downstream.

Chalk Streams First response to Water Resource South East’s draft Plan

Chalk Streams First response to Affinity Water’s Water Resources Management Plan

The Chalk Streams First proposal is not the only solution to our water supply crisis but forms part of a multi-dimensional response that should include more reservoirs. But the proposal could be implemented by 2030 well ahead of the other options available.

As part of Blueprint for Water the Angling Trust recently launched an e-action to help you respond to your local water company WRMP  Make Your Voice Heard On How Should Water Companies Supply Water In The Future

Chalk Streams First is a coalition eNGOs led by Charles Rangeley- Wilson and includes Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, Chilterns Society, Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust, The River Chess Association, The Rivers Trust, Ver Valley Society, WildFish, Wild Trout Trust, World Wildlife Fund and the Angling Trust.

You can read Charles Rangeley-Wilson’s blog on the proposal and report at  Chalkstreams Org Blog

The Angling Trust has been campaigning long and hard for major reforms to the existing water abstraction regime, for more information go to  Keeping Rivers Flowing – Water Abstraction Reform


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