Talk Archive

Beginning in the summer of 2020 the Chalk Aquifer Alliance have been able to present a series of talks pertinent to chalk streams and the challenges they face, thanks to the generosity of both Bury Water Meadows Group and our speakers. This page provides the archive of these talks as well as additional pieces of particular interest.


Exploring Managed Aquifer Recharge – Mike Jones

The talk will address these questions:
What is managed aquifer recharge? How can it be used?
Where is it used in the UK? Why is it used more extensively in other countries?
Is there potential for integration with natural & engineered flood management?
Who are the stakeholders in understanding its benefits & applications?
When will its use increase in the UK?

Dr Mike Jones is a hydrogeologist with over 30 years’ experience spanning groundwater resources, hydrogeology & geology in the water industry, consultancy and research. At Thames Water he has directed major groundwater resource schemes from feasibility assessment of future options through to development, licensing & operation, to support public water supply during drought and future supply in an uncertain climate. He also provides technical direction on the impact assessment of groundwater abstraction on water-dependent environment to support abstraction sustainability, as well as the risk-based impact assessment of infrastructure development on groundwater abstraction.
Mike’s work has included the exploration, development & operation of managed aquifer recharge schemes, which can be important contributors to water supply resilience to climate change. In recent years, his role has widened to include water resource systems and water treatment works modelling to support operational and asset investment decision-making.


Safeguarding a sustainable supply of water for the East of England – Robin Price

Water Resources East is one of five Regional Planning Groups operating as part of a National Framework for Water Resources. Eastern England faces a number of significant risks to its future water supply, which could have a catastrophic impact on the area’s communities, economy, and environment if left unchecked.

WRE is working in partnership with organisations across Eastern England to safeguard a sustainable supply of water for the region. It is developing a long term multi-sector plan to increase resilience to future challenges around water scarcity and flood risk and to enable the region to define and deliver its environmental ambition.

WRE’s Managing Director, Dr Robin Price sets out its strategy and approach.


Chalk Streams First – Charles Rangeley-Wilson

A new idea called Chalk-Streams First has, our speaker claims, the potential to completely re-naturalise the flows in all of the Chilterns chalk-streams with potentially only a small net loss to overall public water supply. It is a scheme that could be delivered in the near future using as its basis infrastructure that is already planned for and costed in the water company management plans.

Chalk-Streams First is supported by a coalition of The Rivers Trust, The Angling Trust, WWF UK, Salmon & Trout Conservation and The Wild Trout Trust and they are calling for the idea to be included in OFWAT’s multi-million pound strategic review of water resources across the south east.

Thus far the proposal has been independently reviewed by expert hydrological engineer Colin Fenn whose key conclusion was …

“ … that the draft Chalk-Streams First proposition, as put, identifies a feasible and a viable solution to the problem of chronic flow depletion in the internationally-rare and precious chalk-streams of the Chiltern Hills; it being to allow flows in the upstream chalk-streams of the Chilterns to run unreduced by abstraction, with water being taken from the correspondingly enhanced flows in the downstream Colne and Lee, and as needs may be from a range of other less-environmentally fragile sources to meet the needs of demand centres in the Chilterns, using Affinity Water’s already planned ‘Supply 2040 scheme.”

Charles Rangeley-Wilson is a writer, conservationist and river restorationist. His most recent book Silver Shoals is about the natural and unnatural histories of five species of fish that have shaped British history. Before that Silt Road was a story of the English landscape told through the history of a lost suburban river. The two before that, Somewhere Else and The Accidental Angler were anthologies of fishing and travel stories, as much about place and people as fish and fishing.

He is passionate about conservation with a particular interest in the history, restoration and preservation of chalk-streams. He’s an Associate Advisor to WWF UK and vice-president of the Wild Trout Trust and an Ambassador for the Angling Trust.

Windrush WASP: Polluting for Profit – changing an unwinnable game

Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP) presents an insight into how the water industry is being allowed to use our rivers to make money and how the regulators have been turned into spectators. Chalk streams have been some of the worst-hit by abstraction and pollution, and some of WASP’s discoveries will help bring the truth to the voting public.


Feargal Sharkey: Seven Deadly Sins – the seven lies told to you by water companies and the Environment Agency

Following a successful career in the music industry, keen fly fisherman Feargal Sharkey OBE is now chairman of Amwell Magna Fishery, the oldest angling club in Britain still fishing the same water. He is an outspoken critic of the national bodies tasked with managing our rivers and the environment, and an active campaigner for rivers.

In this talk he argues that we have been repeating the same mistakes on chalk streams for over 30 years, and explains what, in his view, needs to change.


Simon Stebbings: Chalk stream Invertebrates & Riverfly Monitoring

Simon Stebbings, Cooordinator of Chilterns, Herts & Middlesex Riverfly Hub, talks about chalk stream invertebrates and riverfly monitoring.

The health of a river is dependent on many factors, three primary ones being water quality, habitat and flow. Riverfly populations reflect the health of our rivers and still waters. They are sensitive indicators of water quality and commonly referred to as the rivers’ ‘canary’.

Reported apparent declines in riverfly numbers are of increasing concern whilst the factors that may cause a detrimental impact to riverfly populations are numerous, and include pollution. Small and large scale incidents can happen at any time, spelling disaster for river wildlife. Regular monitoring is the best way of identifying these early-on and enabling a rapid response.

The Angler’s Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) is a national scheme, launched by the Riverfly Partnership in 2007. It is used as a “neighbourhood watch” for rivers across the UK. It helps rivers to be monitored more widely, and more often than is possible by the Environment Agency alone.

Local people and groups are trained on how to monitor their river and report pollution incidents, so they can be better protected. It involves sampling the river each month, counting eight pollution-sensitive invertebrate groups, and reporting a pollution incident if they fail to meet an agreed limit.


Sam Hurst: Water Sensitive Farming / Farming for water

A brief overview of how changes to our rural landscape have affected water quality and what Norfolk Rivers Trust’s Water Sensitive Farming initiative is doing to improve the region’s soils, wetlands, aquifers and rivers.

Sam Hurst is a Bury St Edmunds native who trained as a biologist and spent over 6 years at the Environment Agency, learning about the Cam Ely Ouse rivers and regulating the areas agricultural sector and water companies. Last year he joined Norfolk Rivers Trust as a Farm Advisor to focus on delivering changes that will improve the quality of water draining from our rural catchments.


Shaun Leonard: The Interesting Lives of some Chalk stream Fishes

An illustrated talk on the way some of our iconic fish species spend their lives, including where they live, how they find love, what they eat and, maybe sadly, end their days. Many of the images are of beautiful fish and the beautiful places they live; just a few come with a little, guts-and-all warning…

Shaun Leonard is an unashamed fish bloke, inspired by Jacques Cousteau after a wander around his research vessel Calypso in Mombasa harbour in 1966 and a childhood in and on the Indian Ocean and in the trout streams of southern Ireland. After degrees in marine biology and then pollution, Shaun has had a professional life in fishery management, both game and coarse. He was Head of Fishery Studies at Sparsholt College near Winchester until 2009, when he was gifted a fish bloke’s dream – the post of Director of the Wild Trout Trust. Shaun brings to the Trust a lengthy and ongoing scientific background and continuing involvement with the fisheries and fish farming sectors. He is an avid fisher though continuously disappointed that 45 years of practice appears only to make him worse at the sport with each outing.


The Fly Culture Podcast: Feargal Sharkey

Not a Chalk Aquifer Alliance event, but of great relevance, so shared here with Pete’s permission.

Pete Tyjas talks with Feargal about his love of fly fishing and his battle in highlighting the abuse of the river systems across the UK by water companies.

From the abstraction of chalk streams that, in some cases, are now running dry to what seems the constant unloading of sewage into our rivers systems around the country.

I am sure many of you will be aware of this already but Feargal goes into depth what is happening. It is grim listening.

This will resonate with anyone who cares about the environment fish live in and I hope it will inspire others to join the fight.

Listen here


Kelvin Allen: Water needs and balances

Kelvin’s slides as a PDF are available here


Josephine McSherry: An Introduction to Chalk Hydrogeology

%d bloggers like this: