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

Wet August, Dry River

Sep 12, 2011

Category: Rainfall & River Levels
Posted by: Kathryn

The Environment Agency's latest water situation report tells a tale of heavy rainfall and low flows in our area. We had plenty of downpours in the Chess Valley during August and the Chiltern-East-Colne area that includes the Chess received 84 mm of rainfall, equalling 143% of the long term average (LTA) for the month. Some high rainfall totals were recorded, including 19.8 mm falling at Chenies on the 25th August. Despite these heavy downpours, we are pleased to report that we did not receive notification from Thames Water of a sewage discharge into the Chess. Historically, sewage releases have mainly occurred from the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works when its capacity has been overwhelmed by heavy rainfall.

Effective rainfall levels (those contributing to water levels in the aquifer) are normally very small in August, as little rainfall can penetrate down into the groundwater; most is lost back into the atmosphere by evaporation or transpiration (when water is taken up by plant roots and then lost through pores in the leaves). This August, 160% of the effective rainfall LTA fell, but this only totals 8 mm.

Dry channel in Meades Water GardensThe rest of the summer has been drier, with only 85% of the LTA rainfall for April-August falling in the Chiltern area. Even worse news for the river is that only 46% of the effective rainfall LTA fell. So it should be no surprise that the groundwater levels recorded at Ashley Green continued to decline below normal levels. In fact, across the Chiltern-East-Colne area, groundwater levels reached their lowest since the very dry period back in 2005-06. As a result, flows in the Chess have been low, with stretches in Chesham drying out as far down as Meades Water Gardens. A number of fish were caught out by the retreat of the river and plenty of dead bullheads were seen in Water Lane in Chesham.

A wet winter will be essential to recharge the groundwater levels sufficiently to prevent drought conditions next year.

To view the monthly water situation report, visit the Environment Agency's web site.