‘River Mimram is important’ says campaign survey findings

NEARLY nine out of 10 people use the River Mimram or appreciate its importance for the environment, a survey has found.

And more than 80 per cent think it would be a huge benefit to improve its flow, to ensure it might dry up perhaps only once every two decades, instead of every four or five years as it does now.

The research was carried out by members of Friends of the Mimram group, the Welwyn Hatfield Times’ partners in our Save the Mimram campaign.

They conducted more than 500 interviews in May and June, asking residents in Welwyn, Codicote and Welwyn Garden City.

The findings will provide crucial support for the Environment Agency’s business case to reduce the abstraction level from the Mimram by a third.

Key questions asked included how often respondents (or members of their household) either used the iconic chalk river, or thought about how good the Mimram was for the environment.

Just 14 per cent of those quizzed admitted to never using the river – with 78 per cent seeing it at least once a month.

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Some 85 per cent of people who lived up to two miles away from the river said it would be a big or considerable benefit to have the flow improved to ensure it did not dry up.

A crucial third question asked if respondents would be willing to pay a little extra on their water bill to tackle the problems affecting the river.

And Friends spokesman David Cheek said on the whole people were willing to pay in the region of one to two per cent more – with four out of five people surveyed saying they would.

However, he was keen to stress that this should not be necessary.

Should the Fulling Mill pumping station be closed down, reducing the amount taken out of the Mimram, Veolia Water’s costs would increase – as it would have to buy more resources from elsewhere, namely a supply pipe from Grafham Water.

But the Environment Agency’s business case includes compensation which would be due to the water company – meaning extra costs incurred by Veolia would not be passed down to customers.

However, Mr Cheek said it was amazing to see that people would be willing to pay in order to maintain a fully-flowing river.

The survey will now be presented, along with the WHT’s petition, to further state the case for saving the Mimram.

* Click on the petition link above right.