Pumping station switch off expected to provide valuable boost to River Ver
Environment Agency Acting Chair Emma Howard-Boyd and Simon Cocks, Chief Executive, Affinity Water, with VVS Members inspecting invertebrates found in the Ver, a useful way of monitoring the health of the river..
Affinity Water has agreed that it will reduce abstractions from its catchment area by 42 million litres per day by 2020 and by 70 million litres per day by 2025. As part of this commitment to reduce the amount of water it abstracts it has turned off its Bow Bridge pumping station near St Albans, which will result in a saving of 6 million litres per day.
Affinity Water has been working closely with the Environment Agency (EA) and The Ver Valley Society, for over 20 years to assess the impact of abstractions on the environment. The reductions were agreed as a result of extensive consultation with customers and local groups in 2013. The pumping station has been used sincethe 1960s and it is expected that halting these abstractions will benefit flows in the Ver chalk stream and surrounding environment.
It has also committed to deliver river restoration and habitat enhancement projects on The Ver and six other chalk streams, in partnership with the EA, to restore them to a more natural state to encourage more wildlife.
Jane Gardiner, Chairman 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."
Simon Cocks, Chief Executive, Affinity Water said: “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.”
Environment Agency Acting Chair Emma Howard-Boyd commented: “This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when we work together with companies like Affinity Water. I look forward to seeing the environment around the Ver chalk stream improve as a result of this project.”
July 2016 Newsletternow available to download - see "News" page.
Ver Valley Action Group
Removal of Himalayan Balsam
Saturday 21st May
Photos of the 12 Action Group volunteers at work on Saturday 21st may removing a falling tree which was trapping a lot of litter, including a rubber dinghy and volunteers removing young Himalayan Balsam. We will continue working at Frogmore on the willows blocking the river and the young Himalayan Balsam on 18th June
Latest News - Bow Bridge Pumping Station was closed down on 31st March 2016 as part of Affinity Water's long term planning to alleviate low flows in the Ver.
17 volunteers from the VVS Action Group clearing the Ver at Verulam Golf Course in November 2015 for Sustainable St Albans Week.
Clive Pickering carrying out a
riverfly survey near Redbournbury Mill and the river and meadows near
Ver Valley Society Volunteers clearing the River Ver at Sopwell Manor Meadows November 2014.
Volunteers clearing the River Red of Weed in October 2014.
The opening of the Riverside Way Panel,
Attended by members of the Ver Valley Society and Countryside Management Services, Herts.
River Ver Video - just click to hear the Ver!
The above video was taken one quiet Sunday morning south of Verlam End in the late spring of 2008. There is flow again here since 2013. Why not go out and hear it live!
Chalk Stream in The Ver Valley
The Ver Valley extends from Kensworth Lynch north of Markyate, south via Redbourn, St.Albans and Park Street to join the River Colne near Bricket Wood. The Valley is formed on chalk covered by a thin layer of clay and flint in the hills with gravel and silt in the valley bottom.
Chalk streams such as the Ver are globally very rare. They have porous beds and rely on a high water table for existence. The springs which feed the valleys flow with mineral-rich, pure water which has been filtered through the chalk. Such water is vital to the flora and fauna typifying a chalk stream. But now the very existence of such rivers, especially the Ver and its tributary the Red, are under threat.
The upper section of the River Ver has always been a winterbourne, flowing only at times of high rainfall usually in the winter but until recent years, from Flamstead south, it was a permanent chalk stream. In the 19th and early 20th century the healthy river supported a dozen water mills. The pure, fast flowing, mineral-rich water, of relatively constant temperature, allowed a flourishing watercress industry to develop. Now the spring fed wetlands of the valley are slow to freeze, providing a temporary refuge for over wintering birds and support a variety of plants, animals and invertebrates and birds in summer.
The Discover the River Ver Project has created a series of 8 short walks following the River Ver and exploring the surrounding countryside. These were launched on the 16th May 2011 with the Deputy Mayor of St Albans joining partners and volunteers on a guided walk through St Albans, encountering actors telling tails of the River and re-enacting stories from history.
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"Rivers Down the Drain" - a short film by Charlie Bell of HMWT - July 2013
Rivers are drying, and wildlife is dying. Dry winters and abstraction
are causing our precious chalk streams to die of thirst. Find out about
the threats facing our rivers, and what you can do to help.
Written and presented by the Hertfordshire Living Rivers Officer, Charlie Bell.
Here is the link:-
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things of interest that are happening in the Ver Valley!
For those wishing to research in greater detail the past and present of the River Ver why not look at our extensive archive in St Albans Central Library (Local History Reference Section Ref Y234.303).
"The River Ver, A Meander Through Time"
This book, published in late July, is a new colour hardback all about our river by Jacqui Banfield-Taylor priced
at £24.99 and with a forward by Chris Packham, 350 illustrations and covering all aspects of the river from pre-history
Originally her father, a founder member of VVS collected much material about the Ver intending to produce a book. Since
his death Jacqui has gathered this and much more material, some provided by us, and worked for several years to
produce this comprehensive work.
You can see more about it on the publishers website www.halsgrove.com , signed copies can be ordered from the author
Jacqui Banfield-Taylor - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tel.
"Sopwell: A History and Collection of Memories"
This book by Sandy Norman of Sopwell Residents Association is a fascinating collection of personal reminiscences
interspersed with historical information about this less-well-known area of south St Albans. It is beautifully produced
containing many illustrations and photographs.
Of course the River Ver runs right through the area and has had considerable influence on its history and development
and the Ver Valley Society was pleased to be partly responsible for sponsoring its publication. Our Chairman, Andy
Webb, provided material for it and I was pleased to meet other contributors at the successful launch at Sopwell House
Hotel in May.
Copies at £15 can be obtained from the Sopwell Residents Association c/o 23 Tavistock Ave, St Albans AL1 2 NQ
The Web Site
The original web site was set up by Judy Green, a past committee member and former vice president of the Ver Valley Society. In 2009 with the help of Neville Benn and Stephen Wragg this new web site replaced the original. We are gradually updating and improving the information available on the site. The costs of this have been largely funded from a legacy from a past member of the society, Catherine Tomkinson, who was at the first meetings in 1976. We hope that this web site is a fitting tribute to this lady who was committed to preserving her local environment and in particular her local chalk stream.
The Ver and Its People
Man has always relied on clean, fresh water for himself and his animals, in the past taking it straight from the river. However steadily increasing demands on water resources over the second half of the last century meant that supplies had to be drawn from deep in the chalk aquifer by means of boreholes. This is ground water which would normally feed into the River.
Now at the start of the 21st century further large areas of the country have been designated for new house building. Statistics show continued increase in water consumption per head. However the Ver Valley Society is striving to increase awareness of the impending ecological problems that this demand for water will cause, especially at a time when global warming poses its own threat.
The Ver must not be allowed to dwindle away as it nearly did in the early 1990s.
About the Ver Valley Society
The Ver Valley Society exists to protect and promote all aspects of the River Ver and its valley. We have nearly 200 members and are always pleased to welcome new ones. The Society was originally founded in 1976 to promote the Ver/Colne Walk but shortly thereafter the river, and its valuable water meadows, began to decline due to over abstraction of ground water and climate change. In 1993 we were instrumental in having one of the many pumping stations put onto standby status but over 30 million litres of water per day for local consumption are still pumped out of deep boreholes in the chalk aquifer, so we have still have a long way to go to safeguard our river.
Chalk streams, or winterbournes, are globally rare habitats supporting a very special ecology. We have divided the 24km length of the river into 12 stretches, from its sometime source at Kensworth Lynch, north of Markyate, to the confluence with the Colne near Bricket Wood. These sections are regularly patrolled by our volunteer bailiffs. As well as measuring the flow, they send in reports on wildlife, plants, invasive species, pollution, blockages, the state of the paths etc, and relevant bodies are contacted when necessary.
We produce a quarterly newsletter and hold four Open Meetings a year at different venues up and down the valley, where as well as reporting on river matters, we have a speaker on a relevant topic.
Next Open Meeting
For all details of our next Open Meeting see the News and Notes page.
Non members are welcome to attend our meetings. There is no admission charge.
Join us Today
Just click on the membership link at the top of this page for details.
It's only £8 per annum or £7 per annum if paying by standing order. One membership covers a household / family.