2023 – July Journal

2023 – July Journal

In the past month MRA has exhibited fruitfully at Chalfont St Peter Feast Day, Boug Meadow on National Meadows Day, and at Chiltern Open Air Museum “Green Festival”. Big thanks to Mel Barnett for all his work at Feast Day, including providing the ever popular display of river invertebrates, and to Paul Heath. Our river continues well at Chalfont St Giles and has also managed to make a tentative intermittent appearance in CStPeter, so in all a good month.

Having attracted a good number of new supporters at these events and in recent months – Welcome! – it seemed like a good idea to recap on our mission and progress since inception in 2008. As in the opening lines of our website, “Our simple objective is to maintain the River Misbourne so that it flows as regularly as possible from its source at Great Missenden to its confluence with the River Colne at Denham”. Over the years we have undertaken 137 work parties involving some 1500 volunteer shifts, mainly, but not exclusively, in the challenging reaches downstream of Amersham and by affiliated groups in the upper reaches. First, these have enabled what flow there is to find its way down the valley and then to encourage it when possible. In some places in 2009, it was impossible to tell where the river ran and it is a relief to return later and find a light clear is all that is required.

Other activities include recording and analysing groundwater levels (GWL’s) along the river, rainfall and flows with particular thanks to the amazing Dave Anderson who dips the boreholes monthly. Comparing GWL’s and flows year on year looking for predictable relationships with rainfall quantities and, crucially, their time of year is a tantalising task. However, taking averages of averages and a bit of wishful thinking, it is hard not to conclude that GWL’s have tended to rise and the cumulative miles of recorded flow in a year have increased over the past 30 years: certainly not the opposite. I think we can claim a little bit of the recorded miles of flow due to consistent work to keep open the sections from Misbourne Farm to St Giles and, if GWL’s are rising (when average rainfall is not) that will reflect on the great work done since the 1990’s, and continuing now, to reduce abstraction in the catchment.

Which leads into the fact that we cannot achieve our main objective by ourselves. Only so much can be done by our work-parties and we need at least two more elements. First is for all landowners to fully discharge their obligations as riparian landowners to “Maintain the watercourse and to clear any obstructions (natural or otherwise) so the normal flow of water is not impeded”. This is the biggest problem we face in encouraging flow from Amersham through to Chalfont St Peter and, frankly, although we freely admit to enjoying them, our work parties generally target areas where this is not happening. Secondly, we hope that current studies by Affinity Water and others will identify a schedule of projects to “Mend the Misbourne”, similar perhaps to recent work to “Impress the Chess” or “Revive the Wye”. An important part of ensuring the Misbourne is not left behind is our continuing outreach to various clubs, schools, scout groups and the like; through collaboration with groups such as The Chiltern Society, Chiltern Conservation Board, ColneCAN etc. and representation to our MP, water companies, EA, Councillors and more. Of particular importance is a groundswell of enthusiasm spread by “word of mouth” and evidence of “boots on the ground” from all you supporters – thank you.

However, back to the work parties! First will be Saturday 29th July morning and afternoon sessions at Chalfont St Giles easing obstructions towards the church and into the woods. If Saturdays aren’t your thing, how about Thursday 3rd? On Saturday 5th and, possibly Thursday 10th August, we will be working with Amersham Town Council to remove fallen branches and debris between the church gardens and Tesco. As always, no-one is expected to step up for every occasion but it would be good to have good solid turnouts for these scheduled events. Please let me know if you can spare a few hours at one or more and I’ll send details just before the event – make sure to also let me know your foot size for waders, if I don’t already have it. (Also, if you’d like to do something sometime in the month but can’t make these dates).

Details of these and other ad hoc happenings will be shared on our growing WhatsApp group – again let me know if you would like to join.

Finally, if you’d like a chat about any of the above and the way forward, do join us for a drink in The Greyhound next Wednesday evening, 26th, from 7.15pm

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