New chalk stream assessment to take place

Photo the River ShepWe've commissioned a specialist analysis of the chalk streams in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire  in partnership with Cambridge City Council.

Chalk streams are internationally rare habitats, with 85% of the world’s chalk streams found in the UK and they are mostly located in the South and the South East of England.

Specialists from The Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and The Wild Trout Trust will assess the health of these internationally rare chalk streams, which provide habitats for many significant species, such as brown trout and water vole.

The project aims to see how much pressure is being put on the streams and provide a programme of actions for local groups and stakeholders to fund and implement in partnership.

The chalk streams emerge from the chalk aquifer which lies to the south and east of Cambridge and the aquifer is also the source of water for Cambridge residents and businesses.

Many people are not aware that the much of the water used in Cambridge is from the same source that supports our chalk streams, and that by using less water in their homes – particularly in warm dry summers – that more will be left to support the environment. 

"We’re very aware of the impact of water use and abstractions from the chalk aquifer on our chalk streams at low flows, so we’ve joined forces with Cambridge City Council to commission this assessment and come up with a programme of works to make improvements.

At the same time, we’d encourage all our customers to think about the water they use and the impact that it has on the environment. We have lots of advice on our website on how to use water wisely.”

Dan Clark, water resources manager at Cambridge Water.

"We learned from the Water Crisis Forum last November that we are in real danger of having too little water for our needs, and that we face the prospect of significant damage to the ecology of our chalk streams as a result. Several of the organisations taking part described how inadequate rainfall, increased water use for business and domestic use, and increased abstraction from the water aquifer pose a major challenge to the local environment, including these precious natural resources.

We need to understand our chalk streams properly if we are to preserve them, and this project, initiated by Cambridge City Council with match funding from Cambridge Water, will help by enabling us to assess the physical condition of the streams, measure their biodiversity, and determine how to maintain and improve these significant landscape features."

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor, planning  policy and open spaces.

Tips to use water wisely

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Chalk stream assessment

Find out more about the chalk stream assessment.

Posted: 27 September 2020