2011 – November Notes

Most of you will be all too aware that our river is dry, very dry, in a way that we had perhaps unrealistically thought we would not see again.  While dismayed by the lack of flow anywhere between Quarrendon Mill and Chalfont Park, we are not alone: there has been no flow at Great Missenden all year and the River Chess is largely dry.  I will update the website with the 1st November bore-hole dip readings in a few days but all that will be seen is a continuation through September and October of the fall in groundwater level which is now, incredibly, over 9m below river bed level for a substantial length between Chalfont St Giles and Amersham.  This is by far the lowest year since MRA began and is similar to the exceptional years 1992, 1998 and 2007.    Normally, November sees the beginning of the annual turn and we can only hope that we do see a return, if brief, of flows in the Spring.

So, are we downhearted?  Well, yes, a bit.  The optimism born of over two good years progress has proved unfounded and clearly, although obviously a positive influence, we can’t make all the difference on our own.  The Chiltern Society’s proposals to line two particular sections will address leakage though those sections only and, as Roger Lerry always says, should dramatically improve the rate of recovery after a drought, but won’t prevent one!  The recent trails by Veolia Water working in conjunction with the Environment Agency provide significant encouragement in that a) we did have flow from Amersham to Water Hall when we otherwise would not and b) they show a real engagement with the second phase of the Alleviation of Low Flows (ALF) scheme.  We should not underestimate the problems faced by the authorities in juggling budgets, limited water supplies, environmental issues etc.  However, my particular concern is that the report on these trials is not published until next Spring.  Any agreed recommendations such as further reductions in Misbourne Valley abstraction and transfer of more water to our taps from the Colne Valley have then to be put to OffWat and, at best, would be included in the Asset Management Plans for the period 2015 – 2020.  I have therefore begun a personal lobbying campaign in an attempt to have the augmentation trials continued on a voluntary basis in the interim!  

Meanwhile, we had a super work party last month when we were able to take advantage of the easy access and ensure there was a clear stream bed between the vegetation for the whole length of the leat from Misbourne Farm to Mill Lane.  Well done all those who took part – age range approx. 6 and a half to 65 and including a very welcome number of new faces.

As ever, there are many important tasks looking for a home: MRA website?  Talking to  schools – (I thoroughly enjoyed my annual visit to Chalfont St Giles Junior last month and am really impressed by the way they use the river as a learning resource); flow measurements;  preparing outline pre-tender work plans , method statement, drafting contract documents for the Lining Project; providing memories, tales and/or photos of the river in days gone by and this one-man band would love to hear from you.

Our next Work Day is Sunday 20th November.  There is still plenty to do to ensure we optimise what flows we receive and to manage the river corridor: many hands will make light work and more fun – usual message “…..start 09.30 or to suit you, stay as long as you like: every little helps ….”  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us and any preference for where, and I will put together a work schedule and send further details a couple of days before.  

I have to move the date of our “Not a Meeting” – i.e. a generally river related chat and opportunity to plan – from next week to the following Tuesday 15th November  – at The Village Hall from 7.45 p.m.


For the last two years, we have thoroughly enjoyed an MRA Christmas Dinner at a local pub/restaraunt.  I think we need to decide on 15th if we will try something similar this year so, please let me know before 15th if this is something you would support and any suggestions you may have for venue, date etc.



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