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28 September 22

Affinity Water congratulates the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project on 25 years of collaborative working

Affinity Water will today (28th September 2022) be joining in the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project’s “birthday” celebrations to congratulate the CCSP and all its partners for their 25 years of conservation work on rivers that flow through the Company’s supply area.

The Company has been a long-standing member of the steering group and representatives from Affinity Water’s environment team will be speaking at the Anniversary Conference today at St Michaels Manor Hotel, St Albans.

In addition to celebrating the Project’s achievements, it will be launching its new report on the State of the Chilterns Chalk Streams.

Keynote speaker for the day will be writer and conservationist Charles Rangeley-Wilson OBE, architect of the National Chalk Streams Restoration Strategy and Chair of the CaBA chalk stream restoration group. There will be project partner Stands and a guided walk along the River Ver in St Albans.

Led by the Chilterns Conservation Board, the Project aims to conserve and enhance all major chalk streams in the Chilterns AONB and to encourage enjoyment and understanding of them. The partnership includes statutory agencies, local authorities and voluntary bodies committed to conserving the Chilterns’ chalk stream environment. Affinity Water is a regular contributor to its important work through raising awareness of chalk streams and through the delivery of abstraction reductions, river restoration and invasive non-native species management.

Chalk streams are a globally threated habitat and the Chilterns has nine: the Rivers Ver, Gade, Bulbourne, Chess, Misbourne, Hughenden Stream, River Wye, Hamble Brook and Ewelme Brook. The new report highlights the pressures on these beautiful and fragile habitats.

Anna Jarmolinska-Nowak, Affinity Water’s CSR manager, explained:

“We are very happy to be sharing this special anniversary with the Chiltern’s Chalk Streams project and we congratulate it on the significant contribution it has played in improving the health of the chalk streams in our region.

“We will be speaking at the Conference and updating delegates on our proposed draft Water Resources Management Plan which goes out for consultation in mid-November. It’s a really important time to bring all of us involved in river management together so that we can deliver a clear strategy for keeping our rivers healthy and clean for wildlife, people and the environment for years to come.

“Two years ago we announced that we would stop taking water from boreholes at the top of the Chess Valley within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This action followed years of investigation, trials, and collaborative work with local groups in the Chilterns.

“This work is ongoing and confirms Affinity Water’s commitment to contribute to the restoration of globally rare chalk streams in its supply area to help bring them back to health. Across its supply area, Affinity will also be significantly reducing groundwater abstraction in the Ver, Mimram, Upper Lea and Misbourne catchments by summer 2024.”

Ellie Powers, Affinity Water’s Head of Water Resources and the Environment who will be speaking at the Conference said:

“Our region is home to around 10 per cent of the UK’s chalk streams, as globally rare habitat. We know that 65% of the public drinking water we supply comes from the chalk aquifer, the same aquifer that chalk streams rely on for their flow. We will soon be consulting on our draft Water Resources Management Plan which sets out our plans to provide a reliable, resilient, efficient, and affordable water supply to our customers between 2025 and 2075. It highlights the challenges we face and how we intend to maintain the balance between water supply and demand, while protecting our environment.

“We have reduced abstraction from Chalk stream catchments by 71 million litres per day since 1990 levels. We have plans to reduce abstraction by a further 27 million litres per day from chalk catchments in our central region by the end of the 2024/25 reporting year. Our Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme is also working to restore and enhance chalks streams.”

Ceri Groves, Education and Engagement Officer with the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project said:

“We’re really pleased Affinity Water will be contributing to the conference. The education programme has gone from strength to strength, with current work including launch of an exciting new e-newsletter a new website and three new films about Chilterns chalk streams.

“The celebrations will bring all the groups we have worked with together and allow us to build on our many joint achievements as we play out part in implementing the National Chalk Streams Strategy and ensuring our endangered and precious chalk streams thrive.”

Allen Beechey, Project Manager for the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, said:

“Affinity Water has been a valuable partner from the start of the Project and we are delighted that they are joining us to celebrate our 25th anniversary. The event is also an important opportunity to draw together stakeholders who have a role in protecting our chalk streams to review their condition and understand the many pressures that they are facing.

"The severity of the 2019 drought brought the plight of the Chilterns chalk streams to a wider audience. The Project was a key part of the ‘Chalk Streams in Crisis’ campaign and the Chalk Rivers Action Group that followed, to demand better protection for these rivers. We achieved a fresh mandate and received renewed investment from Affinity Water, Thames Water and the Chilterns Conservation Board, to enable the Project to grow and increase its impact both locally and strategically. With chalk streams facing unprecedented pressures, the Project is now well-placed to play its part in their recovery.”

Dr Elaine King, CEO of the Chilterns Conservation Board said:

“I’m immensely proud of the Project’s achievements over the past 25 years. It has made an outstanding contribution to chalk streams conservation through its wide range of activities including enhancing and restoring habitats, improving public access to the streams, engaging schools and communities, advising landowners and monitoring river health.

“Perhaps most significantly, the Project has supported and enthused local communities to improve and protect their local rivers, which are the eyes and ears of these special rivers. Through increased investment in recent years, the team is now seven strong and I am looking forward to continuing to work with them and all our partners to help ensure that our chalk streams can thrive long into the future."

Find out more about the 25th Anniversary Celebrations of the Project

Our photographs show:

  • Aerial photo showing the remeandering of the River Misbourne between Amersham and Quarrendon Mill
  • Noake Mill weir before and after river restoration works

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