Smarter Water Catchment Update

Smarter Water Catchment Update

An update from the River Chess Smarter Water Catchment project.

The River Chess Smarter Water catchment is in full flow, with water vole surveys, grant schemes and keeping an eye on the current water situation.

Water Vole Surveys

In partnership with the River Chess Association and BBOWT, 10 new volunteers have been trained to survey Water Voles. This year the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project will complete the biannual survey along the whole of the River Chess, the last survey of the whole river was conducted in 2001.


Landowner Grants – Over £43,000 have been awarded in 2022/23, funding projects such as woodland management, wildflower seeds, fencing to boardwalks. This year applications are open again and we have £100,000 to award to projects with an environmental focus, uptake is already proving to show there is a good appetite to improve the Chess Catchment.

Community Grants – Over £50,000 have been awarded in 2022/23, funding projects such as wildflower planters, tools and equipment, training and water butts. This applications are open again and we have another £50,000 to award to projects with an environmental focus.

The partnership has been working hard to update the 10 year catchment plan. A copy can be found here.


Water Situation

In contrast with February, which was the driest in 30 years, March brought exceptionally high rainfall within the whole of the Herts and North London area, with only 6 days recorded as zero rainfall in the month. This has improved groundwater recharge which has benefited flows. Groundwater levels within in area of the Chess remain at a constant normal level however. It will be interesting to see how April (which has recently shown signs of warmth and Spring) and subsequent months continue to shape this. Many thanks to the EA for circulating the latest report which can be found here. We are not out of the woods yet in terms groundwater levels. As the weather warms up, we could easily see a return to drought conditions with consequences for both people and wildlife. Water is drawn to meet our demand, so we all have the power to tackle the issue.

Water Company Price Review

All water companies in England and Wales are required to set out a five-year business plan, which they agree with the economic regulator Ofwat, along with the environmental regulators, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Drinking Water Inspectorate. The current Price Review is often referred to as PR24. They will submit our final PR24 business plan to Ofwat in October 2023. Ofwat will issue us a draft determination in Spring 2024 and we will have until the Summer to respond with our representations.

Affinity Water are currently conducting a price review, which covers customer service improvements, their future investments and how they will ensure sustainable future water supplies. Have your say by clicking here.

Chilterns ANOB