2013 – May Meanderings

2013 – May Meanderings
On Thursday afternoon I attended the launch of The Chalk Streams Charter – see http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/charter_pdf.pdf   The quality and “clout” of the leaders of this initiative, including  Charles Walker MP is most encouraging.  It is “chaired” by George Hollingberry MP, co-ordinated by Martin Salter of The Angling Trust and supported by organisations such as WWF.

I was particularly in need of some encouragement because the general tone of Affinity Water’s consultant’s report on Options for improvements to the River Misbourne that may be addressed in the next Ofwat AMP (Asset Management Plan) 2015 – 2020 is quite depressing.  It is, of course,  great news that something might be done in the next AMP but, oh, so disappointing to read the minimal options recommended and to think of the possible waste of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  As illustration, the attached recent photograph of our river shows what a flow of 13 Megalitres per day (13 Ml/d) looks like.  Compare this with the attached photo of the trickle in the backstream beside Love’s Delight allotments which measured 1.7 Ml/d.  The report recommends a target flow between the Chalfonts of just 1.5Ml/d and, worse, suggests that drying out from time to time should be accepted.  This is a far cry from the the work undertaken by other consultants e.g. Halcrow in 1987/8 which recommended a figure of 5Ml/d.  Perhaps you would consider writing to our MP Cheryl Gillan urging her to sign up to the  Chalk Streams Charter and to work towards meaningful sustained improvements, not the poor token now being mooted.

13 Ml/d looks like this

      1.7 Ml:d backstream.jpeg
This is 1.7 Ml/d in the “backstream”

Is 1.5 Ml/d really an environmentally sustainable and worthwhile target, let alone an aspirational amenity for our community today and our grandchildren tomorrow?

From our website you can see that groundwater levels and extents of flow today are as good as they have been in recent times.  However, the invertebrate surveys reveal only a limited recovery with no RMI – the species said to best describe the river in terms of biodiversity – yet observed at Chalfont St Peter.  Hundreds of Gammarus and Baetidae in addition to cased and caseless caddis in a 3 minute kick sample were typical in June 2011, whilst a total of just 2 cased caddis and two Baetidae is all that was recorded in CSG in April this year.  A healthy population of these creatures is essential to bring back the sticklebacks and other fish. I understand recovery of other aquatic flora and fauna can take 6 years:  all to be put at risk again by a strategy that accepts routine drying out?

We will be in the Chalfont St Peter Village Appraisal Group Marquee on Feast Day 29th June and look forward to chatting with you there.   Sincere thanks to those who have already offered to cover the stand for a while – please let me know if you too can give us half an hour.

Our next “not a meeting” – informal chat over a drink discussing matters fluvial and not – will be this Thursday 30th May at The Ivy House at 7.45 p.m. – all welcome!

Finally, it would be good to have another bumper turnout for the work party on Saturday 8th June.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you can join us, morning or afternoon; every hour warmly welcomed.


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