Hertfordshire will feature on Countryfile on BBC One this evening - Sunday, June 18.

While tonight's Porthcawl Surf and Sand episode centres on Porthcawl and Swansea in South Wales, Countryfile presenter Joe Crowley also explores how nature could be threatened by the UK's growing demand for water.

He meets up with Steve Plumb, Affinity Water's director of asset strategy and capital delivery, where they visit one of their water pumping sites in Hertfordshire.

They discuss Affinity Water's river restoration works at the Woodhall Estate, and the successful work the company has done there, and the future plans it has.

Affinity Water on BBC Countryfile is due to air this evening - Sunday, June 18 - on BBC One at 6pm. 

Welwyn Hatfield Times: BBC Countryfile presenters Joe Crowley, Charlotte Smith, Steve Brown, Sean Fletcher, John Craven, Anita Rani, Tom Heap, Matt Baker, Helen Skelton, Margherita Taylor, Ellie Harrison, and Adam Henson.BBC Countryfile presenters Joe Crowley, Charlotte Smith, Steve Brown, Sean Fletcher, John Craven, Anita Rani, Tom Heap, Matt Baker, Helen Skelton, Margherita Taylor, Ellie Harrison, and Adam Henson. (Image: BBC Studios/Pete Dadds)


Countryfile talks with Affinity Water on restoring chalk streams

Countryfile joins Affinity Water as they discuss the company's plans to invest in river restoration works to improve chalk streams and work with the agricultural community on schemes to improve soil health and improve the quality of water in the natural environment.

As well as reducing abstraction from groundwater sources, Affinity Water’s Revitalising Chalk Rivers programme aims to create resilient river systems by restoring the rivers in its supply area and enhancing habitats.

Affinity have been working with the Environment Agency, landowners and other partners to improve the chalk streams.

As a water-only company, Affinity Water do not manage wastewater services in their areas, but they have a role to play in helping return our rivers to good ecological health. 

Steve Plumb said: “We recognise our role of being stewards of the environment which is why we need to continue working with our customers, the government, the water industry, environmental groups, the agricultural industry and other sectors to increase public understanding on what affects our rivers and what we all need to do to improve them.”

Since 2015, Hatfield-based Affinity Water have been working to carry out a series of river restoration projects on the River Beane in Hertfordshire. 

This includes a stretch of river at Woodhall Park, which is located in Watton-at-Stone. It forms the heart of the Woodhall Estate and is a Grade II-listed parkland.

The River Beane is a chalk stream that flows through the county of Hertfordshire and is 30.3km in length from its source at Roe Green.

As a tributary of the River Lea, it rises to the south-west of Sandon, in the hills north east of Stevenage, and joins the Lea at Hartham Common in Hertford.

Chalk streams are fed by clear, alkaline chalk groundwater and springs making them very biologically diverse. 

There are more than 200 chalk streams globally, but most of these are found in southern England making them highly important to protect.

Ellie Powers, head of water resources and environment, said: “Chalk streams should have a range of habitats including a variation in flow, exposed gravel bed, and often have winterbourne areas depending on groundwater levels.

"Chalk streams are home to a wide range of macroinvertebrates including, mayfly and caddisfly, macrophytes such as water crowfoot and starwort, and fish species like brown trout, as well as iconic species such as otter, water vole and kingfisher. It is important we protect, restore and create habitats for all these species through creating resilience chalk stream catchments.”

In April 2016, a storm resulted in a breach of the broadwater bank, causing the lake to drain down.

It was realised that over time the broadwater had filled with silt which was found to be contaminated with hydrocarbons so required remediation.

The Estate wished to remove the silt and had it treated on site, so it could be spread safely on their land.

Affinity Water took the opportunity whilst the lake was being repaired to improve the connectivity of the river by bypassing the two weirs.

This was done in two phases; downstream first by bypassing the Horseshoe Weir with a new 400m channel with chalk stream features, and then the upstream section bypassing the Broadwater and Tumbling Bay Weir with 900m of new channel.

Kevin Barton, head of corporate affairs, said: "We have a clear purpose to take care of the environment now and for future generations. 

"We are proud to operate in an area of the country that is home to many of our precious chalk streams and are committed to work to protect them for future generations.” 

Chalk streams are under threat due to climate change, pollution, a growing population, demand for water, and the impact of centuries of river alterations due to land use change, historic mills and widening and dredging for flood alleviation purposes. 

Since 2015, Affinity Water have carried out extensive river restoration work and reduced the amount they take from groundwater to help improve over 120km of chalk streams, which includes the Rivers Ver, Lea, Mimram, Beane, Misbourne, Gade and Little Stour.

Affinity Water are also working to identify and deliver projects on the Ivel, Cam, Bulbourne, Chess, Colne, Brett and Dour.

Between 2025-2030, Affinity Water have proposed to reduce abstractions from ground water by a further 35 million litres of water a day. 



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