Fight to save river

PUBLISHED: 12:22 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

The Ver near Riverside Road, St Albans, last summer

The Ver near Riverside Road, St Albans, last summer

NEW studies are being carried out in a bid to save the River Ver from drying up completely - a situation blamed partly on the large number of new homes being built in the area. The Environment Agency is expected to complete its report by the spring - but

NEW studies are being carried out in a bid to save the River Ver from drying up completely - a situation blamed partly on the large number of new homes being built in the area. The Environment Agency is expected to complete its report by the spring - but decisions on the future of the river are unlikely to be reached before 2010. Ver Valley Society chairman Andy Webb warned: "We really are fighting for the life of the Ver and looking for ways to achieve that." He said the latest evidence was that the decision to end water extraction from a pumping station at Friars Wash, north of Redbourn in the 1990s had not been sufficient to permanently re-establish the river's flow. The two latest studies are being carried out to assess the water extraction from the area close to its source north of Markyate and also in St Albans where Three Valleys Water extracts 23-million litres a day from boreholes at Bow Bridge, Stonecross, Holywell Hill and Mud Lane, close to the Westminster Lodge swim pool. Mr Webb said: "We have no problems with Three Valleys because they have a legal obligation to provide us with all the water we need. But all the pumping of groundwater from under St Albans creates what is known as a cone of depletion. As more homes are built and water use increases, this can only get worse." He added that once the latest studies were finished by the Environment Agency, a long period of further work and discussion would follow before a final solution to the problem could be put forward. He said: "There is a light at the end of the tunnel but it is still a very long way ahead. People do not realise that this part of England is one of the driest parts of Europe with less rainfall than such places as Madrid and Istanbul. But at the same time we have huge demand for water and it is growing all the time as more and more homes are built. "The solution is one of national strategy - such as desalination projects or schemes to move water from other parts of Britain and those are things which Government needs to look at because they are too big for water companies." n Three Valleys has just completed work on an experimental borehole on Nomansland Common near Wheathampstead. A spokesperson said: "This was to assess how much water was available there and what the rate of flow was. No decision has been taken about putting it into production. We were simply looking at its potential for our strategy for the future.

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