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

Chalkstreams of England 2019
Stephen Buss Environmental Consulting

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 Aquifer Alliance Talks

Since the summer of 2020 and through the generosity of both our speakers and Bury Water Meadows Group, we have presented a series of talks focusing on subjects related to our chalk streams and the challenges they face. Each of the series are available online, accessible by clicking the images below

Introduction to Chalk Hydrogeology
Water Needs and Balances
The Interesting Lives of Some Chalk stream Fishes
WaterSensitiveFarming/Farming for water
Chalk Stream Invertebrates & Riverfly Monitoring
Seven Deadly Sins
Polluting for Profit
Chalkstreams First
Safeguarding a sustainable supply of water for the East of England
Exploring managed aquifer recharge
ChessWatch-a co-designed online observatory for the River Chess
Is this the road to Hell?
HS2 & Chalk Streams – out of sight out of mind
Groundwater flooding on Chalk aquifers; rare events or short memories
Power, accountability and saving our rivers
Licensed to Spill
Chalkstream Restoration Strategy – a Q&A
Storm Overflows – fountains of information
The Environment Agency – doing it’s job?
HS2 & Chalkstreams – the sequel
Planning to Fail
Chalk Streams, Planning & the Local Plan
CSRS – What it says and how to use it
Planning Policy & SuDs
Windrush WASP: What did privatisation of the water industry ever do for us?

What’s at stake

Chalk streams in numbers


chalk streams
& rivers


of the world’s
chalk rivers
are in England


fail to meet
quality status


benefit from
special protection

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.

We support:

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

Water – What is going on?

A paper entitled ‘Water – What is going on?’ by Professor Dieter Helm was recently brought to our attention that looks at the past and current economics of the water industry and it’s privatisation, giving a very large pointer as to how and why our rivers and chalk streams are in the mess they are…

Chalk stream Restoration Strategy launched

As I’m sure all readers are aware, the long awaited Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy was launched recently, with a reception at Tewin Bury Farm on the River Mimram, attended by Defra Minister Rebecca Pow MP, Tony Juniper – Natural England and Emma Boyd-Howard from the Environment Agency The strategy was written and collated by Charles…

CaBA Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy Consultation

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 Defra…