Wednesday 17 July 2019
After three dry winters we now find ourselves in a situation where nearly 60% of the chalk stream habitat in the Chilterns AONB is dry and with groundwater levels continuing to fall across the area the situation is getting worse by the day.
Chalk Streams are a globally scarce habitat. There are only around 260 chalk streams in the world and nine of these are in the Chilterns. They are an iconic part of the landscape in southern England and support a huge diversity of life. But they are quite simply dying from a lack of water.
In May a group of 12 organisations including the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project came together to launch a ‘Chalk Streams in Crisis’ campaign to demand better protection for these rivers, calling for immediate water use restrictions and a much higher priority for long term drought planning. As a result of these efforts, Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, has secured a debate in the House of Commons on the issues raised in the Chalk Streams in Crisis report, which will take place on Monday 22nd July. If you care about your local rivers, please tell your MP and join our campaign.
In addition to government action there is a lot that can be done on an individual level. Across the Chilterns, most drinking water comes from groundwater (it is pumped out of the chalk aquifer). The more we take out, the less is available to supply the rivers. Parts of the Chilterns have the highest water use in the UK at 173 litres per person per day (which is more than 30 litres above the national average). Simple steps like fixing leaky taps and toilets, taking shorter showers and banishing the hosepipe all make a difference.
The Chilterns rivers are suffering from drought, yet hardly anyone is talking about it. Please help us to change that.