Affinity Water is delivering on its Business Plan commitment to reduce the amount of water it takes from the environment (abstractions) by turning off its pumping station near St Albans.
The pumping station has been used since the 1960s and it is expected that halting abstractions will benefit flows in the Ver chalk stream and surrounding environment.
Chalk streams are a globally rare habitat and there are around 240 chalk streams in England, of which around 10% are located in Affinity Water’s supply area.
Affinity Water has been working closely with the Environment Agency (EA) and local river group, 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 company has agreed that it will reduce abstractions by 42 million litres per day by 2020 and by 70 million litres per day by 2025.
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, Chair 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.
“The Environment Agency’s wide review of abstraction licences has so far resulted in 27 million cubic meters of water per year being put back into the environment.
“But there is much more to do – and everyone has a role to play in using water wisely.”
Environment Agency Acting Chair Emma Howard-Boyd met with Simon Cocks, Chief Executive, Affinity Water, representatives of the Ver Valley Society and staff from Affinity Water and the Environment Agency at the River Ver.
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