More news...

Jul 6, 2018
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

With this hot weather our water use goes up; this leaves less water available for the Chess.

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.

Latest News

The Chess & Sewage; What Next?

Jul 29, 2014

Category: Pollution
Posted by: Kathryn

The River Chess suffered from continuous sewage pollution fromThames Waters' Chesham Sewage Treatment Works from February to June of this year (2014). This was caused by high groundwater levels overwhelming the capacity of the works. The impacts of more than 4 months of pollution are not fully known, but our volunteers recorded an impact on the riverfly populations downstream; school trips to the river were cancelled because of the potential risk of diseases such as gastroenteritis and Hepatitis; and fish releases from our Trout in the Classroom project had to be delayed to give the fish a better chance of survival. The sewage pollution impacted upon all those downstream of the sewage works who use the river for work or recreation.

Due to the strength of feeling from the public, the River Chess Association and Thames Water held a public meeting to explain why the pollution was happening and possible approaches to stopping a recurrence in the future. You can read the minutes here (PDF, 68 KB).

Thames Water has committed to investigating where groundwater is entering the local sewage network. This work is expected to take 18-24 months and will enable possible solutions to be identified. However, solutions will only be implemented if they meet Thames Water's cost: benefit analysis. At the meeting, Environment Agency representatives explained that they were investigating the pollution incident and would provide information on the results once the investigation had been completed.

We will be holding a follow up meeting with Thames Water later this year to see what progress has been achieved. In the mean time, we are receiving many enquiries from the public asking whether it is safe for them, their pets and their children to access the river once again. Whilst the sewage pollution ended in late June, we would always advise people to take precautions when using the river, as it will naturally harbour microorganisms that can cause disease. We recommend that people never drink the water, ensure that any cuts or wounds are not exposed to the water and that hands are thoroughly washed after coming into contact with river water.