More news...

Sep 18, 2017
Category: General
Posted by: Kathryn

A public River Chess forum will take place in support of the World Wildlife Fund's 'Nature Needs You' campaign.

Jul 12, 2017
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

With groundwater levels now exceptionally low, the river in Chesham is dry as far as Lord's Mill, Waterside.

Jul 12, 2017
Category: Pollution
Posted by: Kathryn

We welcome the news that Thames Water will shortly be making improvements to the Chesham works.

Apr 1, 2017
Category: Pollution
Posted by: Kathryn

The River Chess has suffered many issues resulting from the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works, going as far back as 1889. These problems continue today.

Latest News

Dredging The Chess; What's the Point?

Jan 23, 2015

Category: Flooding
Posted by: Kathryn

The Chess at Scotsbridge

Above: The River Chess at Scotsbridge

Last year the River Chess flooded houses close to Scotsbridge Mill. Now, the Environment Agency is starting a project to dredge the river at this location in the hope of reducing the flood risk. This is an expensive and invasive procedure which we feel will do little to mitigate flood risk.

The river is trying to find its own natural route around the mill and without any interference from us eventually it will. That would mean the mill leat would possibly eventually dry up. The perched channel leading up to the mill, part of the Chess Valley Walk, would also eventually dry up.

From our understanding the flooding in the Scotsbridge Mill area last winter was caused by a number of issues coming together at the same time. It was a combination of already eroded and weakened banks, high flows and material blocking a trash screen on the side channel. The high flows caused the main river to breach its banks at the points where the bank had been eroded and weakened. The water filled the side channel which then became blocked. The flow backed up quickly and found its way into houses along side Park Road. 

Dredging the channel above the mill will not answer any of these problems.We believe that the short term solution would be to lower the weir at the mill, or the side sluices. This would lower water levels above the mill and reduce the chances of the banks being breached. 

The banks need to be repaired, which is a long-term reoccurring problem. The sluices in the mill leat need to made functional again and should be lowered at times of high flow. The side stream culverts needs to be kept clear of trash and culverts removed or widened. Once this has been done, somebody needs to be responsible for monitoring levels and taking appropriate action. This is a high maintenance solution. 

The other alternative is to encourage the river to find its natural route and it will then manage itself, significantly reducing flood risk. This would require landowner support as it will significantly alter land use. This does also have consequences for water flow in the mill leat, the mill and the perched channel leading up to the mill; this will dry up. This changes the mill significantly and might cause structural integrity issues for the building. There might also be historical, heritage issues.

We are concerned that the dredging activity does little to resolve the problems on this stretch of river. We cannot see that this activity on its own will reduce water levels and therefore does little to mitigate flood risk. We would argue that the money, all £300,000 of it, could have been better spent on coming up with a long-term sustainable solution.