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24 October 22

Affinity Water gives employees four volunteering days a year & they’re helping to save the water vole

Volunteers from Affinity Water joined Chilterns Chalk Stream Project with their team of experts from Chilterns Society to take part in river restoration in the Chess Valley near Latimer.

Their teams from Leakage, Production, Customer Experience & Technology and Corporate Affairs got involved hands on in the river restoration taking full advantage of the four volunteering days a year Affinity Water has given to them.

They constructed berms and installed deflectors within the channel to create a more habitable environment for the water vole groups already living along the river.

Adrian Porter from Chilterns Chalk Stream Project said:” Days like this demonstrate the value of getting volunteers involved in practical river restoration. The enthusiasm and commitment from our friends at Affinity water resulted in a tangible improvement in habitat for water voles and provided plenty of opportunities for education and learning. The project at Latimer Park is a great example of partnership working and we look forward to working much more closely with Affinity Water in the future.”

Anna Jarmolinska-Nowak, Corporate Responsibility Manager said: “It was a fantastic day, all aimed at improving the river habitat for water voles. We were split into groups and worked under the guidance of four experts from Chilterns Society. Our tasks included trimming overhanging vegetation to allow more light into the channel. The material was later used to create other structures such as berms and deflectors. The team did so well - it was a pleasure to work in such a friendly and encouraging atmosphere created by our hosts at Chilterns Society.”

Phil Martin, Leakage Control Manager said: “I volunteered as I really liked the thought of environmental work, and this was an ideal opportunity to experience this. I also met other colleagues from different departments and enjoyed learning about them and their work. My team got involved in creating a few meter-long berm using locally recycled woody debris to help narrow the channel and encourage meandering to create refuge habitat. It was a rewarding experience as we made a real impact on the day. I would encourage all to get involved next time as it’s a great, fun way to learn new skills and find out more about local wildlife, heritage and the environment.”

Kevin Barton, Head of Communications at Affinity Water said: “In Autumn 2020, Affinity Water took a voluntary decision to cease abstraction from two sources at Chess Valley to help improve flows in the river. The environment is at the very core of our company purpose, and I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity for some real hands-on work to improve the river and the wildlife it supports. This felt very rewarding once completed and gave us a chance to witness first-hand what our company purpose is all about. It was also fantastic to work with others across the business and spend a hard day’s work outdoors together. Our group created flow deflectors to help diversify flow, which will clear the gravel from sediment and create the perfect habitat for fish.”

About the partnership:

Affinity Water has been a long-standing supporter of the Chiltern Chalk Stream Project which 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.

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