End in sight for abstraction from River Ver near Redbourn

Environment Agency Acting Chair Emma Howard-Boyd met with Simon Cocks, Chief Executive, Affinity Wat

Environment Agency Acting Chair Emma Howard-Boyd met with Simon Cocks, Chief Executive, Affinity Water, representatives of the Ver Valley Society and staff from Affinity Water and the Environment Agency at the River Ver. - Credit: Archant

A long-running campaign to persuade the local water company to stop abstraction from the River Ver near Redbourn is finally coming to fruition.

The Ver Valley Society has been pressing for the Friars Wash pumping station to be switched off for many years because of concerns about the impact on the Ver, which is a rare chalk stream, and the surrounding environment.

Now, after working closely with the society and the Environment Agency (EA), Affinity Water has agreed to a programme of reducing abstractions.

By 2020 42 million fewer litres of water will be abstracted each day and by 2025 that figure will rise to 70 million litres.

There are only 240 chalk streams in England, of which 10 per cent are in the Affinity Water supply area. As well as reducing abstraction, Affinity has also committed to delivering river restoration and habitat-enhancement projects on the Ver and six other chalk streams in partnership with the EA.

This week all three parties came together to mark the reduction of water abstraction. Jane Gardiner, chair of the Ver Valley Society, said: : “We are very pleased that the first of several abstraction reductions in the Ver Valley, planned by Affinity Water, has now taken place.

“We have been campaigning over many years for such reductions to ensure that the River Ver continues to flow and its very special ecology and wildlife are protected.”

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Simon Cocks, chief executive of Affinity Water, added: “We believe that leaving more water in the environment and working in partnership with the EA, to deliver improvements to local habitats, will benefit communities by restoring our precious chalk stream habitats and we will be monitoring water flows and the ecology to assess the effectiveness of these changes.”