Environment Agency Acting Chair Emma Howard-Boyd and Simon Cocks, Chief Executive, Affinity Water, with Ver Valley Society 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 since the 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.”