Rivers and Wetlands
Our Rivers and Wetlands Conservation Group monitors the health of Chiltern waterways, ponds and associated environments and work with other interested groups on their improvement and protection.
In recent years we have
- Promoted improvement programmes for the Wye, Misbourne, Bulbourne and Mimram
- Helped facilitate the saving of College Lake near Tring from uncontrolled water rises
- Created partnerships with the Environment Agency and water companies on water resource issues
- Created a historical record of the state of Chiltern rivers and their flood plains
- Successfully campaigned against over abstraction from our rivers
- Become an expert source of knowledge on matters relating to Chiltern rivers
- Determined the impact of low rainfall on more than one hundred Chiltern ponds.
More specifically we are currently engaged in
- Measuring groundwater levels at boreholes along the Bulbourne, Gade and Misbourne rivers and investigating their impact on river flows.
- Working with the Environment Agency on various schemes to alleviate low flows in the Misbourne, Bulbourne, Wye, Gade, Chess and Hughenden Stream. Best efforts cannot, however, totally compensate for below average rainfall – a contributory reason for low or no flow in our chalk streams. Over abstraction and inappropriate developments are other dangers we seek to defend our river courses against.
- Contributing to CAMS (Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies). CAMS is a nationwide Environment Agency initiative aimed at providing a consistent and structured approach to water resource management, balancing abstractors’ reasonable needs against those of the environment.
- Routine inspection and recording of the health, flow, flora and fauna of our rivers together with known or anticipated events and changes impinging on the rivers. Rivers currently under inspection are the Barton Springs and Brook, Whistlebrook, Pitstone Brook, Ewelme Brook, Alderbourne, Assenden Stream, Hamble Brook, Salt Hill Stream, Hughenden Stream, Wye, Misbourne, Chess, Bulbourne, Gade and Mimram. Volunteers are needed to cover more rivers in the North of the Chilterns.
- Compiling a database archive (River Flows, River Changes, River Flora and Fauna, River Photos) of the rivers information held by the group in order to safeguard its survival and to provide a single source of information for use by interested parties. Follow the links below to see a sample page from the database mentioned: (each opens in a popup window)
River Flora and Fauna
- Organising twice yearly visits to places associated with water. Recent visits have embraced sewage treatment works, the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union canal and the north flowing streams at Bledlow and Chinnor.
The River Misbourne
In May 2009 the Society submitted a proposal, Saving the Misbourne, to the Environment Agency recommending repairs to the leaking bed of the Misbourne between the Amersham Waste Recycling site and Chalfont Mill. These repairs will improve river flow above Chalfont St Giles and reduce the number of times this stretch of the Misbourne dries out. The link above is to a 3MB PDF – left click to open in a new window, right click to download.
From February 2011 to February 2012, monthly photographs were taken at 8 different positions along the River Misbourne.
Click a number to select a camera position:
Then use the controls below to move between photographs:
During the course of a year (2008/9) a photo was taken every three months from each of eleven points on the river. This Photo Survey of the River Misbourne shows how the river vista changed as the year progressed. Following the link above downloads a 19 page PDF in a 2.7MB ZIP archive to the default location for downloaded files on your device.
Chilterns Chalk Streams Project
Representing the Chiltern Society on the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, this partnership of local government, Environment Agency, Countryside Agency, Natural England, water companies and other groups interested in the environment, aims to conserve and enhance all major chalk streams in the Chilterns AONB by:
- Raising awareness of the value of chalk streams as a globally rare habitat
- Giving advice to landowners on riverside management
- Undertaking conservation exercises to improve the streams for wildlife
- Doing surveys to assess habitat quality and populations of rare species
- Creating educational material for schools.
Meetings of the Group are held twice a year, usually in October and March. Each meeting will normally have a guest speaker. Subjects addressed are truly catholic and have included the geology of the Chilterns and its impact on the rivers, the history of watercress production, water voles and their habitat, chlorine and its use in water treatment…