Webinar archive

A Chalk Aquifer Alliance event, hosted by Bury Water Meadows Group This session offers guidance on obtaining discharge permits from the public register and associated information through Environmental Information Requests. It gives suggestions as to how this information might be used in the campaign to clean up the UK’s rivers.
The ground-breaking new report ‘River Lark Pollution Review and Action Plan’ sets out how some key goals could be achieved in dealing with Lark pollution, with the active leadership and help of Jo Churchill MP. The ‘River Lark Pollution Review and Action Plan’ represents the work of a collaborative action group of organisations that have come together, including Anglian Water, the CamEO, Environment Agency, Norfolk Rivers Trust, the Rivers Trust, and the Riverfly Partnership. The report provides evidence of the poor health of the River Lark, and identifies the actions needed to rescue this precious chalk stream. Geoff Brighty author of the report and the speaker for this webinar says: “The river has recently faced three years of hot, dry summer weather and sustained abstraction, coupled with the combination of point source and wider catchment diffuse pollution from both town and land management. This is leading to a potentially lethal, unsustainable combination of increasing pressures of pollution and water demand. This has a moral and a legal imperative – this should not be happening” View the report here https://www.burywatermeadowsgroup.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/River-Lark-Pollution-Review-and-Action-Plan-Final-v1-April-2021.pdf
A Chalk Aquifer Alliance event hosted by Bury Water Meadows Group
The regulator says the number of prosecutions for river pollution has dropped to a 5 year low. Water companies are owned by overseas investors and pension funds.
Theo Thomas, London Waterkeeper, will explore how we can make ourselves heard and change the current power imbalance.
Theo Thomas founded London Waterkeeper to be an independent voice for the Capital’s rivers.
He was a BBC news journalist in the East Midlands before combining his passion for the environment with social justice. Theo worked for Thames21 for 12 years leading its work on water quality, citizen science and sustainable drainage. He has a vision for a swimmable River Thames which would see thousands of people benefit from improved physical and mental health.
Nicola Crockford’s day job is RSPB’s Principle Policy Officer and policy lead for the BirdLife International Global Flyways Programme. In normal times this involves a heavy schedule of travel most months, all over the world – to negotiate with governments to get the best deal for migratory birds, as well as commuting to offices in Sandy and the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge from her home (since 1995) in Tuddenham, West Suffolk.
Since March 2020, she has had a much better work-life balance. This has enabled more exploration of her local countryside in the Brecks, Fens and other parts of Suffolk. In recent years her favourite pastime has been snorkelling to watch and photograph fish and other marine wildlife (usually in tropical, Mediterranean waters or the English South Coast). It was only during the hot spell in August 2020 that she suddenly realised it was possible to snorkel and observe nature in the local rivers. It was a revelation! In this talk she shares her experiences to date, including some conservation issues which this new interest has brought to her attention.
A Chalk Aquifer Alliance presentation, hosted by Bury Water Meadows Group
Water levels in the Chalk naturally vary seasonally, and when levels rise high enough water will start to flow in ‘bournes’ and ephemeral streams that are often a characteristic of the Chalk landscape. In particularly wet conditions high groundwater levels can cause more widespread flooding and may cause damage or disruption to local communities. Significant groundwater flooding events occurred in 2000/2001 and 2013/2014 and triggered widespread interest from researchers, stakeholders and the affected communities. But why is the Chalk prone to groundwater flooding, and do the events of the last decades represent something new, or are we just describing something, that has always happened, in a new way? Variability in climate and rainfall in past decades may have given us a false impression of how rare or common groundwater flooding is, and long intervals between flood events mean that the purpose of landscape and infrastructure adaptations can be easily forgotten.
A year and a half have gone by since Sarah and Stephen Gull took over 15 acres of water meadows known as the Butts, and lots of water has gone under the bridge quite literally! Find out how they are getting on with their patch of wilderness.
Chairman of the River Chess Association, Paul Jennings, and geologist Dr Haydon Bailey discuss the hydrogeology of the Chalk of the Chilterns and the impact of HS2 on the aquifer and chalk streams.
Jo describes the problem of pollution from road runoff and provides some examples of data and polluting outfalls. She explains what solutions are available and how they should be funded and operated, then outlines some of the emerging research on the pollution from tyre wear particles and the effect it may be having on wildlife and humans.
Jo hopes that by discussing this topic with the CAA, she can better understand the impact on chalk streams, and begin to identify priority locations for improvements to be made on the chalk streams.
Jo Bradley has worked in the field of pollution control for over 30 years, many of them at the Environment Agency in Lancashire. She worked for a treatment device manufacturer for a while, but now leads a new not-for-profit organisation, Stormwater Shepherds UK, which is working to reduce plastic pollution with a particular focus on road runoff and microplastic tyre wear particles. Jo has tried almost everything to improve the regulation of road runoff without much success, so she hopes that by mobilising a gang of like-minded people to shout out about this problem, we might see some changes in the next 5 years.
River Chess is a chalk stream in South East England (UK), under unprecedented pressure from over-abstraction, urbanisation and climate change; consequently the river currently fails to meet good ecological status. The community-led ChessWatch project is designed to raise public awareness of threats to the River Chess and involve the public in river management activities using a sensor network as a platform. In 2018 four water quality sensors were installed in the river to provide stakeholders with real-time water quality data (15-minute intervals) to support catchment management activities. The dataset from the project is intended to support future decision-making in the catchment as part of the five-year ‘Smarter Water Catchments’ approach run by Thames Water.
This presentation reviews the successes and drawbacks of the ChessWatch project to date and examine the challenges of linking the data collected by the project to policy and practice in a catchment with multiple stakeholder groups. Kate Heppell and Paul Jennings present the results of a participatory mapping exercise held at local community events to capture the public use of, and concerns for, the river revealing concerns for low flows and water quality issues linked to abstraction and runoff. They show how dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity, chlorophyll-a and tryptophan measurements made by the sensors are enabling local stakeholders to better understand the threats to the river arising from urban runoff and changing rainfall patterns, and they examine the challenges of data presentation, sharing and usage in an urbanised catchment with high water demand and multiple conflicting interests.
The form and function of Floodplains across England have not come down to us by chance, they are the outcome of centuries of modifications by humans. This talk is about the formation and operation of floodplain meadows, reclaimed marshlands and floated watermeadows. It is concluded that these semi-natural habitats provide an invaluable opportunity for ecosystem services and sustainable management and should be maintained at all costs.
Ancient hillforts have fascinated historians and archaeologists for centuries. Enduring and prominently situated, they have sparked the imaginations of generations through the glimpse they give us into our history. Iron Age hillforts were constructed in the United Kingdom from around 1000 BC until the Romans arrived. Steeped in mythology and folklore, they offer an intriguing insight into how communities might have lived together over two-thousand years ago.
Some think hillforts may have been built to mark a boundary between two distinct tribal areas. They might have been centres of ritual and ceremony. Some have evidence of roundhouses, which would point to their function as community dwellings and livestock enclosures. But who were these people? What did they do, and how did they live?
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?
Discover more about the approaches in the present UK conservation world and learn more about nature recovery and how we view our wider environment. This talk covers the wilding movement through to more conventional conservation approaches and discusses the issues surrounding both.
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.
The origins of water meadows are lost in medieval times. Surface water irrigation expanded in Wessex and throughout England from the sixteenth century and was a sustainable intensive integrated agricultural system until the twentieth century. This talk looks at the origins of water meadows in England, their management and importance to agriculture through the centuries, and why they are still important in terms of landscape history and ecology today.
This talk explains invasiveness in nature and why we are seeing a rapid increase in invasive species. It explains how plants become invasive, what their characteristics are, why they have a devastating impact on biodiversity, and how to prevent them from having a negative impact in your home and local environment. By the end you will have a toolbox of actions for prevention and early intervention against the most serious invasive species; tips for their effective control, and a checklist to prevent the growing problem of garden escapes. The talk ends with a call to watch out for invasive alien tree diseases.
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.
Kate Osborne is a naturalist who founded Beach Bonkers to inspire people about Suffolk’s shingle beaches through beachcombing. Vegetated shingle habitat is internationally rare and surprisingly fragile, and the plants that thrive here have special adaptations to survive the desert-like conditions.
Kate will show some of the treasures that can be found in the stones, including the shells of voracious carnivores, the egg cases of cannibal sea snails, and fossil teeth from woolly mammoths and sharks … every single find tells a story. The best comment Kate can hear at the end of a beachcomb is “I will never look at a beach the same way again.”
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.
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 will argue that we have been repeating the same mistakes on chalk streams for over 30 years, and explain what, in his view, needs to change.