More news...

May 3, 2018
Category: Abstraction
Posted by: Kathryn

With an ever-growing demand for drinking water and increasingly extreme weather events, how do we get the water we need without causing even more harm to our rivers?

May 2, 2018
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

Our riverfly monitors are back out in the centre of Chesham checking for life in the Chess now that flow has returned.

Mar 24, 2018
Category: HS2
Posted by: Kathryn

A public meeting with HS2 and the Environment Agency looked at the risks posed by tunnelling to the groundwater and rivers of the Chess and Misbourne Valleys.

Dec 31, 2017
Category: Conservation
Posted by: Kathryn

Restoration works to a tributary of the Chess are planned for early 2018.

Latest News

Storm Water Discharges Kill Fish

Jun 22, 2011

Category: Pollution
Posted by: Kathryn

Discharging "storm water" into rivers, which includes untreated sewage, kills thousands of fish, as has been seen with recent pollution incidents on the rivers Thames and Arun:

Thousands of River Thames Fish Killed by Storm Sewage - BBC News, 8 June 2011

Fish Die in River Arun 'Sewage Spill' in West Sussex - BBC News, 16 June 2011

These incidents occur when sewage and storm water drains are combined and the flow becomes so great that sewage treatment plants exceed their storage and processing capacity. With the existing infrastructure, there is no alternative but to discharge the excess storm water and sewage into rivers and coastal areas. This action is legal and is covered by consents from Government. In recent years, the River Chess has experienced a number of these discharges from the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works, operated by Thames Water, putting the river ecosystem at risk. The latest incidents on the Thames and Arun are a graphic reminder of what could happen on the Chess.

We do appreciate that Thames Water are working to alleviate this problem on the high profile River Thames with their Super Sewer and we support their overall objectives. However, we feel that smaller rivers like the Chess are being overlooked.

The practice of discharging "storm water" must be stopped on all rivers and coastal outlets or we will see many more of these incidents. The River Chess is extremely vulnerable this year because of very low flow rates. We will remain vigilant and continue to pressure Thames Water to upgrade the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works. We need Government to assist by addressing the general issue of storm water discharges in the Water White Paper.

In recent months Thames Water has volunteered to provide the River Chess Association with immediate notification of storm water discharges, which will allow our trained Riverfly Monitors to attend the scene and measure the effect on the environment. Since this system has been in place we have not had a notification from Thames Water.

We do have sympathy with Thames Water, as they are working within the legal consents established by the Government. So, as these incidents increase and more fish are killed, the blame can be laid squarely at Government's door. We are continually surprised by Government's lack of willingness to address this glaringly obvious problem; this  should be a key point in the Water White Paper. Government should be proactive not reactive. We need to see intent from Government to phase out this practice with a clear, manageable timeframe for it being stopped. We need zero tolerance and a much tougher stance from the Environment Agency.

We continue to lobby Government along with other organizations to get this stopped:

Surfers Against Sewage

World Wildlife Fund (Rivers on the Edge campaign)

Our Rivers

Angling Trust

Fish Legal

Wild Trout Trust

Association of River Trusts

Paul Jennings, RCA Chairman, commented, "These recent incidents on the Rivers Thames and Arun are a graphic example of what we are guarding against on the River Chess. We hope that Government will address this in the Water White Paper and establish a timetable to phase out this odious practice of Storm Water Discharge consents."