2013 – Boldly going into Year 5

Belated best wishes for your health and happiness in 2013.  I hope you have enjoyed the break from my relentless flow of e-mails but all good things must come to an end and you will want to be knowing about diary dates for the new year.

While you may have noticed that we undoubtedly had quite a lot of rain in 2012, the press have pulled back a bit from their “wettest ever” headlines.  Indeed, it is interesting to note that, of the last 25 years in Chalfont St Peter, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002 were wetter – largely because of 2012’s dry early months and, although maybe quickly forgotten, the long drought before April last year had a really severe impact on local aquifers. Even now the Environment Agency is reporting groundwater levels for instance in the North and South Downs, the Cotswolds and elsewhere as “exceptionally high” whereas levels in the Chilterns – now rising strongly – have just about reached “normal”.  So, the welcome return of a hint of the Misbourne to Chalfont St Giles in November and subsequent increasing flow and penetration several hundred metres downstream of the church, but no more, is much as predictable.

As the river has returned, the benefits of our previous efforts have been apparent and the last two work parties of 2012 brought the water front almost skipping along, much to the delight of our younger workers.  The  channel alongside Silsden Meadow is still well defined, unlike the jungle we tackled three years ago and it should be relatively easy to make further good progress with a view to, hopefully, having flow back to Chalfont St Peter in the spring.  Other targets for the year should include stalling the rampant weeds that clog the Bottom House Farm area – a result of over wide excavation some time in the past.

With the Chiltern Society and others we had a useful and informative meeting with HS2 Ltd and their consultants.  The concerns we raised appeared to be understood and likely to be fully addressed to prevent contamination of river or aquifer.  Perhaps less convincing was their, or anyone’s, ability to be absolutely certain that ground disturbance and movement could not lead to more leakage where the tunnel may go under the river, against which we suggested localised lining might provide some defence.  Incidentally, I see they have now published a draft Code of Construction Practice.

Anyway, to work!  Our first work party of 2013 will be on Sunday February 3rd – commencing 09.30 and probably everyone will have had enough by 1.00 p.m.  Every little helps and any hour you can spare will be very welcome.  Please let me know if you expect to be able to join us and I will send suggested “orders of the day” near the time to suit the numbers and conditions.  To help plan our activities, catch up on stuff behind the scenes and also chat about nothing to do with the river we will have a “not-a-meeting” at The Ivy House, Chalfont St Giles from 7.45 p.m. on Thursday 24th January – everyone welcome.

While you are making notes in your diary, you could also note work days on Saturday 23rd March and Sunday 28th April.  Other dates for the year will be on our website http://www.misbourneriveraction.org within a couple of days as will the groundwater, invertebrate monitoring and weather information.


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