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Improvements to the River Misbourne

28 October 20

Affinity Water rolls out its Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme with improvements to the River Misbourne at Amersham so wildlife can thrive

  • Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme bringing the river Misbourne back to life
  • Drone photographic footage gives a birds-eye view of the project site
  • Extensive programme of river restoration works planned in next five years

River Misbourne at Amersham channel excavation in progress

Affinity Water has launched an environmental improvement plan to part of the River Misbourne at Amersham as it steps up its efforts under the Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme over the next five years together with the first drone footage of the project.

It will be undertaking the works on a 1 km stretch of the river between Amersham Bypass and Quarrendon Mill, located off London Road East until the end of November in collaboration with Buckinghamshire Council, who own the land, tenant farmers, the Environment Agency, and other partners and river groups involved in the wider Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme.

River Misbourne at Amersham construction underway - view of site looking downstream from the ford

Working closely with our supply chain partners Affinity Water will be creating a new river channel which will meander through one of the agricultural fields that surround the River Misbourne before reconnecting to the existing channel. This new channel will be more closely aligned with its original course. This will improve habitats for local wildlife such as plants, invertebrates and fish.

Amersham to Quarrendon site under construction- drone imagery of site

This new drone footage captured gives a birds-eye view of the project site, half-way through the works which began in September 2020. It shows Amersham to Quarrendon site under construction where Affinity Water has excavated most of the new channel through the upstream grazing field. Further drone footage will be taken at the end of the project which will capture all of the completed works.

David Watts, Affinity Water Programme Delivery Manager said:

“A more suitable and diverse chalk stream habitat will be created with the introduction of Berms giving a natural meandering form. Pool and riffle sequences will create deeper and shallower sections of water which in turn will create areas of slower flowing water and faster flowing water which will attract different aquatic plant, macroinvertebrate, such as mayflies and fish species. It may take some time for them to establish and for it to be reflected in our environmental monitoring results but we look forward to seeing our Revitalising Chalk Rivers programmeimproving the health of the river.”

 

Key features of the work include:

  • In a lower part of the valley, closer to where it would have been before human intervention, the new channel will be fenced off to prevent the banks from being poached and livestock entering the channel.
  • Cattle crossing points will be installed so that livestock can access the field with no restrictions.
  • We will also create an informal wetland area to allow the river to come out of the bank naturally during times of high rainfall.
  • A small earth bund will act as a natural flood barrier to prevent any potential increase in downstream flood risk.

 

Grace Harland, Affinity Water’s Asset Scientist said:

“The River Misbourne is a chalk stream but the section from Amersham Bypass to Quarrendon Mill lacks many features of a typical chalk stream. The channel is generally overwide and straight and is perched above the valley bottom away from its original course. This means the flow is fairly linear and vegetation is not diverse. That section also suffers from low flows at certain times of the year due to its limited interaction with groundwater. The work we are doing aims to address all of this and introduce features and characteristics of a typical chalk stream. We aim to finish most of our improvements by the end of November but we will need to come back in the spring to do some finishing works such as reinstatement and seeding and finishing off the Berms. It’s a joy to work on a project like this as we know we are improving the environment and that it will help wildlife of all kinds to flourish again.”

Jake Rigg, Director of Public Affairs and Communities said:

“Under Affinity Water’s Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme we will be restoring the chalk streams in our area, and protecting the environment, while delivering high quality water to the ever-growing population in the South East of England at an affordable price as we live through a climate emergency. Chalk streams are a precious part of our local and national heritage and a priceless natural resource. There are only 260 in the World, and 85 per cent of these are found in England with 10 per cent in our catchment area.

“Our Revitalising Chalk Streams programme, which forms part of our next five year business plan, encompasses river restoration work, catchment management, biodiversity and abstraction reductions and aims to leave more water in the environment thereby enhancing our chalk streams to make them more resilient for the future.

“Restoring the River Misbourne at Amersham is an important further step in this programme. We’re also planning another programme of work on the River Misbourne in Amersham in the future.”

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