Our collective vision is that the chess catchment is a jewel in the heart of the Chilterns landscape. We want to create a place where people are working together to protect and improve the water environment for everyone. From the headwaters in Chesham to its confluence with the River Colne in Rickmansworth.
What is a catchment?
A catchment includes both the river and all the land around it, from which the River Chess is formed.
Who are the partners?
At the core of smarter water catchment are a group of professionals who are passionate about water. We love studying it, protecting it and talking about it. We believe together we can achieve more.
The partnership approach, being employed by the Initiative, is a collaboration between Affinity Water, Buckinghamshire Council, Chilterns Conservation Board, Chiltern Society, Environment Agency, Hertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Thames Water and The River Chess Association. This mixed group from different sectors, provide a steering group and governance in the direction Smarter Water Catchments will take over the next 10 years.
What have we achieved this past year:
Throughout 2021/22 the delivery team has focused on collecting data to inform a baseline analysis of how to lead our approach and future strategies. This baseline helps us to develop where interventions will be best placed to achieve our key themes:
- Improving Water Quality
- Managing Flow
- Control of Invasive non-native species
- Improving wildlife corridors
- Involving people
- Working together
One such illustration of the type of baseline reporting the team is delivering is ‘The State of River Chess Report’. This report summaries our improved understanding of the catchment and its pressures; it focuses on identifying how we can create a more resilient environment across the whole catchment.
We have successfully funded and recruited two new positions. Professor Kate Heppell, seconded to the Smarter Water Catchment and Chilterns Chalk Stream Project for two years from Queen Mary University, and has provided unparalleled support and research capability in creating the baseline. Steph Horn, the new Partnership Coordinator, who’s key role is to ensure that all aspects of the project and its partners are working and engaging as a collective across the catchment.
The project has also funded 600m of fencing along a stretch of the Little Chess near Latimer. The aim of this fencing is to further improve the bank side vegetation along the river. Whilst grazing in the existing meadows has been hugely beneficial for wildflower diversity and meadow invertebrates, restricting grazing up to the edge of river will be beneficial to the expansion of water vole numbers by minimising bankside erosion and increasing vegetation cover.