An interesting film made by Patrick Rangeley-Wilson and featuring Charles Rangeley-Wilson about a river restoration project on The Nar in Norfolk.
Charles Rangeley-Wilson OBE (author, conservationist, and Chair of a national chalk streams restoration group) blog
Charles Rangeley-Wilson OBE (author, conservationist, and Chair of a national chalk streams restoration group)has written a very interesting blog relating to the recent John Lawson report that Revivel commissioned.
Please follow the link
Earlier this year, thanks to the huge generosity of Revivel’s members and many others who very kindly donated , we were able to commission the services of John Lawson (a renowned specialist in this field) to conduct a study on the upper Ivel and make recommendations as to how to save our river.
His draft report was discussed in detail at a recent meeting with the Environment Agency (EA) and
Affinity Water. John Lawson and Charles Rangeley-Wilson OBE (author, conservationist, and Chair of
a national chalk streams restoration group) supported RevIvel at the meeting.
If would like to read the redacted report in full please click the link below.
For the highlight of the report the summary is as follows.
Key findings of the draft report:
- With “abstraction as a percentage of recharge” (note 1) at 53%, the upper Ivel is amongst the most over-abstracted chalk streams in the country and, as a result, the river is increasingly dry for long periods
- Historic evidence supports that the water table used to be 3-6m higher. At Black Horse Mill the water used to flow all year round, providing sufficient power to grind corn (note 2). John Lawson concludes that reduction in flows is consistent with increasing abstraction
- Impact of abstraction:
- John Lawson employs the “Chalk Streams First” mathematical model to explain the daily water balance model (note 3). EA representatives have agreed many of the principles behind the model
- Whereas Affinity Water bases its views about the impacts of abstraction, in the area around the boreholes, on 3 “switch off” tests conducted in 2015/16; whereby 1 borehole at a time was switched off for between 10-30 days. Affinity Water’s conclusion was that stopping abstraction resulted in no discernible increase in flow (you might agree with John Lawson when he countered that these switch-off tests might have been too short/ limited in scope to give measurable flow increases?)
Recommendations of the draft report:
- The existing licence of 14.8 Ml/d would need to be reduced to 2.4 Ml/d to achieve the CaBA (note 4) recommendation that abstraction should comprise no more than 10% of the recharge rate, to ensure a healthy chalk stream
- John Lawson suggests an innovative, neat solution to save the upper Ivel.
Please see high level illustration of the proposed solution to save our river:
Benefits of John Lawson’s proposed solution:
1. It does not cost much in terms of new infrastructure i.e. low carbon
2. It does not cost much in terms of water requirements (net 4.5Ml/d)
3. It utilises the emergency storage capacity of the aquifer and could help alleviate drought
4. The upper Ivel could be a test case to save chalk streams nationally
1. John Lawson’s paper is being peer reviewed (note 5)
2. RevIvel will submit/ present the proposed solution to Water Resources East/ Water
Resources South East (WRE/ WRSE) to be included in regional and national plans which
determine water allocation for the rest of the century. It is critical for our voice to be heard
3. Further meetings are planned over the summer with Anglian Water, Affinity Water and the
Achieve consensus on the impacts of abstraction
Challenge the EA classification (per The Water Framework Directive) of the flows
and ecological status of the upper Ivel; this is currently “good”, making it hard to
argue that urgent action is needed
Keep pressure on the relevant bodies to adequately take account of the needs of the
If you have any questions or can offer expert help in any of these areas, please contact
email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
This update covers the “John Lawson” work only. A further update will follow about the state of the
river and other actions which RevIvel is undertaking.
1. Average abstraction 12.4Ml/d/ average recharge is 23.6Ml/d. Recharge refers to the rate of
replenishment of the aquifer which is largely dependent on autumn and winter rainfall
2. There used to be perennial flows of 5-10Ml/d (millions of litres per day)
3. The CSF model computes the daily aquifer storage within the Upper Ivel catchment by simulating the
water balance of inflows from effective rain and outflows from river flow, underflow and abstraction
4. Note 4: The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) is an inclusive, civil society-led initiative that works in
partnership with Government, Local Authorities, Water Companies, businesses and more, to maximise
the natural value of our environment
5. Note 5: Peer review: the process by which something proposed (as for research or publication) is
evaluated by a group of experts in the appropriate field. Peer review enhances the credibility of the
Images courtesy of Danny Middleton , one of Revivels members , showing the Upper Ivel very low at the Iron Bridge at Radwell Meadows.
Images taken on 8th July 2022.
RevIvel fedback to Fiver Rivers on 6th July. The upper Ivel has often been over-looked so we appreciate the focus t on our river. However the River Restoration plan fails to address the fundamental problem faced by the upper Ivel i.e. that it is dry and dying due to over-abstraction.
- The groundwater support (augmentation) planned is minimal e.g. 0.55Ml/d in the context of what is needed.
- The existing abstraction licence of 14.8 Ml/d would need to be reduced to 2.4 Ml/d to achieve a healthy chalk stream.
- Please see our full feedback via the link below.
Bad news……….The Upper River Ivel has stopped flowing at Ivel Springs ,Baldock.
Extreme water abstraction by Affinity Water is the issue.
Until 2019 this stretch of the chalk stream ran year round.
Revivel met with key people from Anglian Water on 7th April 2022 and also with representation from NHDC. Key updates were as follows:
- Measures have been implemented to smooth flow/ reduce stress on the weakened section of pipe (rising main) in Norton Road – which if you remember has burst three times in the last year. RevIvel has also been asking for a more robust and longer term fix. Anglian Water (AW) advised that it is evaluating the following options: (a) installing a temporary overland main, (b) a new rising main or (c) inserting a steel liner. It is envisaged that the preferred solution could be implemented within six months subject to permissions
- Misconnections and leaky pipes: after viewing the “foul accumulation” by the outflow pipe behind the pumping station in the Ivel Springs Nature Reserve, AW acknowledged that it is evident that there is a problem. Revivel believes that an entire road in Baldock might be misconnected and a site visit with the AW team is to be organised promptly. All agreed to work together to raise awareness about misconnections generally and promote remedial action. AW agreed to share the following information: analysis of sediment samples, sewerage maps and travel pathways through the aquifer, as well as Environment Agency contacts
- Citizen Science: a collaborative approach was talked about with the potential of training and financing of monitoring equipment
- WINEP funding package: AW invited input from Revivel to help shape where to target future investment. RevIvel would be pleased to have input
In summary, this was the first meeting with Anglian Water. It is a promising start. Revivel will continue to follow up to ensure forward progress and that agreed actions are delivered.
The above article was published on the local Comet website on 25th March 2022 and then printed in the Comet newspaper on 31st March 2022.The Comet asked for responses and Kathryn Mackenzie from Revivel responded and her letter was published a week later, which his produced below.
The SOS Save our Stream appeal started on 31st January to raise £2,000 in funds to finance the services of a technical specialist to enable us to prepare submissions and present our case to Affinity Water.
The appeal closed on 31st March and we are sure you would like to know that an amazing £5,275 was raised .
This amount is well beyond our initial expectations and a massive thank you goes to all of the members who helped and assisted with the appeal, members who kindly re-joined, members who recommended others to join, new members who saw the publicity and lots of other very kind people who gave donations.
Contributions ,and promises of contributions ,have also been made by local councillors and we have passed our thanks onto them too for their kindness.
John Lawson has helped us prepare The RevIvel Association’s response to the WRE and WSRE consultations focusing on the need to reduce abstraction to sustainable levels.
In addition, he is preparing a report on the impact of over-abstraction on the Upper Ivel which we will use in discussion with Affinity Water and the Environment Agency in the coming months. We hope to have this report complete by the end of April. In due course, we plan to share with you the highlights of the report.
With the additional money that has been raised we are now looking at making two purchases to evidence and support our requests to Affinity Water (re flow) and Anglian Water (water quality).
This equipment will record both water flow and water quality (ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, etc). We are still evaluating functional specifications for these devices and more about this will follow.
American mink entered U.K. rivers and waterways from poorly maintained fur farms and towards
the end of the last century there was a “mass release” by Animal Rights Activists. Since then,
American mink have decimated the water vole population in the U.K., making the water vole,
“Britain’s fastest declining mammal”.
Therefore, it is important to monitor that mink are not present in order to start restoring water voles
and other biodiversity to Britain’s’ rivers.
Meeting in Radwell 31st March
A group from RevIvel met with Josh Kalms, Water Vole Conservation and INNS Officer at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust 31st March. The purpose of the meeting was to ensure mink monitoring
rafts were placed in two strategically important locations to protect Hertfordshire’s’ rivers from
mink coming upstream.
Firstly the “standard” mink monitoring raft in/ near the Mill Pond at Radwell (installed about
a year ago) was checked and evidence of mink footprints was noted in the wet clay area
within the raft
Secondly, a new Smart raft was installed in another strategic section of the river
How the Smart raft works
If an animal is captured, a text or email alert is generated to nominated individuals at RevIvel. The
raft will be checked as soon as possible or in any event within 12 hours if triggered. There is no need
to check unless alerted as there is “pulse” monitoring in place.
Animals other than mink (e.g. moorhens) should be released. Mink need to be dispatched swiftly
HMWT is considering locations for water vole reintroductions in rivers in North Herts in 2022 – one
such area under consideration is the Hiz. Next year – assuming no mink and water in the river
(Affinity Water, please note!) – the upper Ivel could also be a candidate for water vole
Water voles are a vital part of river ecosystems and are a keystone species. Their burrowing, feeding
and movements help create conditions for other animals and plants to flourish. Ultimately also
helping achieve the mission statement of RevIvel which is to create an environment whereby brown
trout and ranunculus may once again thrive in the upper Ivel.