These wonderful habitats are our water rainforests – ours to enjoy, ours to protect.
But at the moment, we’re behaving as though they’re ours to destroy.
WWF Water for Wildlife Report 2017
The Chalk Aquifer Alliance is a network of river groups and organisations standing up for chalk streams across the chalk aquifer of England
The Chalk Aquifer Alliance supports the restoration and protection of water quality and flows in our chalk streams and the reduction of abstraction to sustainable levels.
These unique freshwater ecosystems are suffering from over-abstraction and pollution and as they all share the same 60 million year old chalk bedrock it’s time that there was a single entity to defend them.
We are mindful that the challenges faced in the East and South East may not be the same as those faced in the West and the North but we are keen that any and all independent chalk stream groups, friends and supporters join us if they wish. We feel there is plenty of common ground and that there are benefits to being able to share knowledge and understanding across river groups.
Chalk streams in numbers
of the world’s
are in England
fail to meet
A network of river groups and organisations standing up for chalk streams across the chalk aquifer of England
What we do
Provide a platform to bring together all those working for the protection of river environments across our shared chalk aquifer.
Campaign for chalk streams, their environment and biodiversity and an end to abstraction of groundwater from the chalk aquifer. Scroll down for more on our aims.
Support grass roots river groups across England’s chalk aquifer in campaigning for our precious chalk streams through information exchange and shared resources.
Uniting independent groups to protect
our chalk streams
Chalk streams can be found across the south and eastern parts of England; from Dorset, to Wiltshire, Sussex, Kent, the Isle of Wight and Hampshire in the south, through the Chilterns, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk in the east and into Lincolnshire and Yorkshire in the north.
We have 85% of the world’s chalk streams in England. These unique freshwater ecosystems are at risk from pollution and over-abstraction that are causing significant damage to this precious habitat.
Many of the chalk streams in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, and south-east England do not even have enough water flow to function properly. Over-abstraction from the groundwater is the main reason. Too much water is pumped out of the Chalk aquifer for our domestic supplies, and in some areas for agriculture, to the detriment of the health of the rivers.
Numerous river groups are collaborating to bring about a change as they feel that the Chalk aquifer systems are being over exploited in favour of public water supply.
The restoration and protection of water quality and flows in our chalk streams and the reduction of abstraction to sustainable levels.
What we’ll do:
- Raise awareness of the plight of all chalk streams
- Share knowledge and understanding across river groups
- Campaign to end unsustainable abstraction
- Work to establish ecological target flows for chalk streams and hands-off flow conditions
- Fight to end sewage releases into chalk streams
- Encourage habitat restoration and optimum biodiversity
- Celebrate the benefits to mental health, happiness and general well-being a healthy chalkstream can bring
What we’ll explore:
- Lobbying for ALL chalk streams to have bespoke statutory designation including enhanced protection
- Stronger controls on damaging agricultural practices that affect chalk streams
- Publicising the targets of the Water Framework Directive/Environment Bill and pursuing those tasked to make it happen
- Preventing road run off and its load of sediment containing hydrocarbons, heavy metals, street litter and micro-plastics running into chalk streams
- Raise awareness of insufficiently treated water from sewage works damaging chalk streams especially at times of low flow
- Planning process changes to ensure that new developments will only be permitted where a sustainable water supply is assured
- Pressing for more flexibility in supply network to move water from areas of higher rainfall to those with less – towards a national grid of water
- To have minimum flows applied to all headwaters, specifically spring fed rivers
- Whether the Chalk aquifer is a single entity and should be managed as such
- Encouraging Government to get fully behind sustained consumer water saving campaigns
- Inspiring consumers to embrace water saving for the benefit of the environment
Latest blog posts
Last year Charles Rangeley-Wilson spoke to the Chalk Aquifer Alliance about his Chalkstream First proposals to restore flow to the Chilterns and other chalk streams, principally by abstracting water from our rivers further downstream and pumping it back to supply customers in the upper catchment areas. He was subsequently tasked by Rebecca Pow and DefraContinue reading “CaBA Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy Consultation”
The CAA were in correspondence recently with Friends of the Ems, a group fighting for their river in East Hampshire. Like many of us, their river’s problems are rooted in abstraction but also raise questions as to how solutions to mitigate issues in one catchment can impact or may even exacerbate them in another. ThisContinue reading “Fighting for the Ems”
We received the following message from Paul Jennings of the River Chess Association this week…….. A friend Sarah Green has been fighting to access data relating to the impact on the aquifer of piling operations for the HS2 viaduct. After a protracted period the Judge has found in her favour. So she will get accessContinue reading “Sarah Green v HS2”
Last year Charles Rangeley Wilson was good enough to come and speak to us about his Chalkstream First proposals to restore flow to the Chilterns and other chalk streams, principally by abstracting water from our rivers further downstream and pumping it back to supply customers in the upper catchment areas. He was subsequently tasked by Rebecca Pow and Defra to pick up the baton from CRAG and develop a chalk stream restoration strategy.
Charles says ……
After 6 months of hard work, there is now a consultation draft of the CaBA chalk stream restoration strategy. It is available to view via the Rivers Trust website
There is no doubt that our chalk streams suffer from excessive groundwater abstraction, too much nutrient from secondary-only sewage works on undesignated streams, too many storm overflows, too many weirs, too many canalised reaches, not enough gravel on the river beds, not enough meanders, not enough trees in and around the river and not enough space for the river to be a river. That’s easy housekeeping. all it requires is political backing and collective effort.
There has to be a strategy that all parties can sign up to and support. While it might be too radical for some and equally it may be not radical enough for others. However, I do think we have a strategy which, if we act on it, will make a massive difference.
It won’t be the be all and end all. There are hills to climb ahead of more hills beyond. The more hills? Nitrogen levels in the chalk aquifer. Toxins in road-run-off. Climate change.
He will be joining us for a Q&A on June 2nd, so sign up for the chance to discuss the plan. If you would like to submit questions in advance, please send them in to us.