Aquifer

Affinity Water is licensed by the Environment Agency to abstract tens of millions of litres of water per day from the Ver aquifer by pumping from deep underground using several pumping stations along the length of the Valley. However in April 2016 Affinity Water took the pumping station at Bow Bridge off line, consequently reducing abstraction buy about 6 Ml/day. Further reductions are planned by 2025.

Following the Buncefield Oil Depot disaster in December 2005 some pollution of the water table meant the Bow Bridge Pumping Station was not used for nearly three years. Friars Wash Pumping Station has been on stand-by status since 1992 (as a result of pressure by Ver Valley Society) but was used in the summer of 2006 in the drought.

Bow Bridge remained out of use from 2006 to August 2009 due to fears of contamination from the Buncefield firefighting chemicals following the incident. This certainly helped maintain the flow in the Ver in the next few summers. The aquifer was at or above average for much of 2008 and into 2009 but fell below average later in 2009. Following prolonged dry weather the aquifer continued to fall so that by the early months of 2012 it was over 7 metres below average, the worst it had been for over 5 years.

In general the aquifer is only recharged in the winter months as in summer rainfall is used up by vegetation growth and evaporation in the warmer months. Record rainfall in 2012 meant there was a most unusual rise in the aquifer throughout that summer and by the end of 2012 the aquifer was above well average once again; the level rose by about 9 metres in the year. In early 2013 the aquifer was the highest it had been for at least 10 years. Subsequently the aquifer again fell to well below average due to the dry winter of 2014/2015 followed by a dry, warm spring, summer and autumn. By the end of 2015 the aquifer was nearly 5 meters below average but some rain in early 2016 allowed the aquifer to improve slightly but in the summer it was still about 3 meters below the norm. However with low rainfall the aquifer has remained at a low level throughout 2017 and is now at just about the lowest since 1997.

As a general measure of the aquifer situation Ver Valley Society uses groundwater figures measured by Environment Agency at Ballingdon Farm in the upper part of the valley. Recent figures in metres are given below.

Contains Environment Agency information – ©Environment Agency

Month 2018 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 125.45 131.36 -5.91
February 125.84 132.38 -6.54
March 126.80 132.79 -5.99
April 128.63 133.60 -4.97
May 130.50 134.10 -3.60
June 130.69 133.32 -2.63
July 130.52 133.23 -2.71
August 129.77 132.56 -2.79
September 128.66 130.87 -2.21
October 127.70 130.93 -3.23
November      
December      
Month 2017 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 126.02 131.36 -5.34
February 126.07 132.38 -6.31
March 126.62 132.79 -6.17
April 126.62 132.79 -6.17
May 127.09 133.60 -6.51
June 127.02 133.32 -6.30
July 126.08 133.23 -7.15
August 125.92 132.56 -6.64
September 125.77 130.77 -5.00
October 125.43 130.93 -5.50
November 125.10 130.91 -5.81
December 124.87 130.56 -5.69
Month 2016 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 126.50 131.36 -4.86
February 127.81 132.31 -4.50
March 128.82 132.79 -3.97
April 130.80 133.60 -2.80
May 131.12 134.10 -2.98
June 131.60 133.60 -2.00
July 129.87 133.23 -3.36
August 128.84 132.56 -3.72
September 128.89 130.87 -1.98
October 128.08 130.93 -2.85
November 127.16 130.91 -3.75
December 126.53 130.56 -4.03

Month 2015 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 129.12 132.36 -3.24
February 129.40 132.36 -2.96
March 130.71 134.17 -3.46
April 130.60 133.56 -2.96
May 129.40 132.38 -2.98
June 130.13 133.32 -3.19
July 129.15 133.23 -4.08
August 128.31 132.56 -4.25
September 127.74 130.87 -3.13
October 127.17 130.93 -3.76
November 126.48 130.91 -4.43
December 126.27 130.56 -4.29

Month 2014 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 131.60 131.56 0.04
February 136.17 132.38 3.79
March 139.70 132.79 6.91
April 139.61 132.30 7.31
May 138.63 134.10 4.53
June 137.49 133.32 4.17
July 136.29 133.23 3.06
August 134.85 132.56 2.29
September 133.32 130.87 2.45
October 131.98 130.93 0.50
November 130.54 130.91 -0.37
December 129.88 130.56 -0.68

Month 2013 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 134.72 131.36 3.36
February 137.20 132.38 4.82
March 137.97 132.79 5.18
April 138.08 133.60 4.48
May 137.55 134.10 3.45
June 136.61 133.32 3.29
July 135.45 133.21 2.24
August 134.06 132.54 1.52
September 132.62 130.87 1.75
October 131.42 129.92 0.50
November 130.36 130.91 -0.55
December 129.18 130.56 -1.38

Month 2012 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 125.98 131.30 -5.32
February 125.82 132.38 -6.56
March 125.75 132.79 -7.04
April 125.66 133.60 -7.94
May 127.51 134.51 -7.00
June 127.76 133.32 -5.56
July 130.40 134.10 -2.87
August 131.04 132.56 -1.52
September 131.04 130.87 0.17
October 130.55 130.93 0.38
November 130.18 130.91 0.73
December 131.52 130.56 0.96

Month 2011 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 128.00 130.56 -2.56
February 128.86 131.36 -2.50
March 129.82 132.79 -2.97
April 130.84 133.60 -2.76
May 131.01 134.10 -3.09
June 130.45 133.32 -2.87
July 129.36 133.23 -3.87
August 128.27 132.56 -4.29
September 127.71 130.87 -3.16
October 127.23 130.93 -3.70
November 126.71 130.91 -4.20
December 125.26 130.56 -5.30

Month 2010 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 128.49 130.92 -2.43
February 129.04 131.60 -2.56
March 131.94 132.38 -0.44
April 135.52 133.60 1.92
May 135.70 134.10 1.60
June 134.97 133.32 1.65
July 131.99 133.25 -1.26
August 132.51 132.56 -0.05
September 131.59 130.87 0.72
October 130.49 130.93 -0.44
November 129.45 130.90 -1.45
December 128.68 130.45 -1.77

Month 2009 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 133.10 131.36 1.74
February 134.62 132.38 2.24
March 136.57 132.79 3.78
April 136.64 133.60 3.04
May 135.85 134.10 1.75
June 134.61 133.30 1.31
July 131.57 133.22 -1.65
August 132.30 132.56 -0.26
September 131.24 130.87 0.37
October 130.09 130.93 -0.84
November 128.80 130.91 -2.11
December 128.24 130.50 -2.26
Month 2008 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 131.26 131.36 -0.10
February 134.22 132.38 1.84
March 134.90 132.79 2.11
April 135.53 133.60 1.93
May 134.84 134.10 0.74
June 134.52 133.32 1.20
July 133.88 133.23 0.65
August 133.07 132.56 0.51
September 132.29 130.87 1.42
October 131.60 130.91 0.69
November 131.40 130.90 0.50
December 131.62 130.56 1.06

Month 2007 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 128.94 131.36 -2.42
February 132.60 132.38 0.22
March 135.67 132.79 2.88
April 136.26 133.60 2.66
May 135.60 134.10 1.50
June 134.79 133.32 1.47
July 133.78 133.23 0.55
August 132.83 132.56 0.27
September 131.82 130.83 0.99
October 131.40 130.87 0.53
November 130.90 130.91 -0.01
December 130.66 130.56 0.10

Month 2006 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 126.09 131.36 -5.27
February 126.03 132.38 -6.35
March 126.63 132.79 -6.16
April 126.63 133.60 -6.97
May 126.70 134.10 -7.40
June 126.71 133.32 -6.61
July 126.77 133.23 -6.46
August 126.45 132.56 -6.11
September 125.81 130.87 -5.06
October 125.49 130.93 -5.44
November 125.34 130.91 -5.57
December 126.47 130.56 -4.09

Month 2005 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 128.15 131.36 -3.21
February 127.25 132.38 -5.13
March 127.77 132.79 -5.02
April 127.27 133.60 -6.33
May 127.76 134.10 -6.34
June 127.93 133.32 -5.39
July 127.24 133.23 -5.99
August 126.68 132.56 -5.88
September 126.17 130.87 -4.70
October 126.17 130.93 -4.76
November 126.15 130.91 -4.76
December 126.15 130.56 -4.41

Month 2004 Actual Aquifer (Metres) Average Aquifer (Metres) Difference Aquifer (Metres)
January 128.30 131.36 -3.06
February 129.50 132.38 -2.88
March 131.42 132.79 -1.37
April 131.30 133.60 -2.30
May 131.09 134.10 -3.01
June 131.09 133.32 -2.23
July 130.85 133.23 -2.38
August 130.04 132.56 -2.52
September 127.97 130.87 -2.90
October 127.58 130.93 -3.35
November 127.43 130.91 -3.48
December 127.25 130.56 -3.31