Rivers Week: how did it go?

Rivers Week: how did it go?

During Rivers Week (18th and 24th September), our team were out and about across the Chilterns involved in a variety of activities, site visits and conferences.


South Chilterns Catchment Partnership Hannah Parry-Wilson presenting Chess citizen science talk Riverfly training with volunteers on Little Chess Ministerial visit to the River Chess Volunteers training in Riverfly at Little Chess

Monday 18th September

On the first day of Rivers Week, our Citizen Science Co-ordinator, Hannah, ran a MudSpotter training walk for eight people in Rickmansworth.

This wet weather citizen science survey aims to identify sources of sediment into the River Chess that enter the river from bank erosion, pipes, culverts or overland flow from road runoff.

Siltation (excess sediment settled on the riverbed) is a problem for wildlife living in our chalk streams. Sediment overlying and settling between gravels creates inhospitable oxygen-depleted environments that are inhabitable for many freshwater invertebrates frand prevent fish from spawning. Therefore, identifying sources allows us to speak to local councils and landowners about how we can work collaboratively to improve water quality.


Tuesday 19th September

On Tuesday 19th September, the South Chilterns Catchment Partnership met at Hambleden near Henley-on-Thames for their general partnership meeting and to visit the Hamble Brook restoration project.

The partnership is Co-Hosted by the Thames21, The Chilterns Chalk Streams Project and Action for the River Kennet. For more information see the South Chilterns Catchment Partnership storymap. This particular meeting also welcomed new local groups from Mend the Gap, Goring Gap Environmental Group and Wild Cookham.

This was an opportunity for each member to update each other on their work to date and their ambitions to bring in new funding to support local initiatives. The group also welcomed Steph Horn – Project Coordinator for the Chess Smarter Warter Catchment Project to speak about some of the successes and lessons learnt from the Chess.

South Chilterns Catchment Partnership

Thursday 21st September

Rivers week for Chilterns Chalk Streams Project Manager, Allen Beechey, was an exciting one. Allen received an award from Cllr Patricia Birchley, Chairman of Buckinghamshire Council as a Dedicate Guardian of Chalk Streams. Allen has worked for the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project since 2005, so this a fantastic recognition for the dedication and diligence that Allen has shown to grow the project from strength to strength.

The award coincided with a visit from Rebecca Pow, MP for DEFRA Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environmental Quality and Resilience.

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The visit organised in partnership with the Chess Smarter Water Catchment Initiative, Buckinghamshire Council, Thames Water and Restore Hope Latimer, saw three local MPs visit first the sewage treatment works (SRW) in Chesham. Thames Water has significant investments in the Chess Valley Catchment, both in the formation of the Chess Smarter Water Catchment Partnership and recent upgrade to increase the capacity of the STW by 40%. Next year, phosphate stripping will also be introduced. The visit of the Minster was to showcase the need for more joint up investment.

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The second half of the visit was to Restore Hope Latimer, a charity based just outside of Chesham in Latimer. This element enabled more local partners, councillors and representatives to join together to showcase why the River Chess is an exemplar partnership looking to support Chalk Streams in the Chilterns. With recent news of the Third Reading of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, this visit not only included a duty on local authorities to deliver AONB Management Plans, but also an amendment was passed to give greater protection to chalk streams. We are hoping the recent shift to support Chalk Steams nationally will further bolster and support the excellent work the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project has been delivering since 1997.

On this day also locally to the Chess valley, our Citizen Science Co-ordinator, Hannah, gave a detailed presentation of our River Chess citizen science work to the local U3A Science group in Amersham.

Hannah Parry-Wilson presenting Chess citizen science talk

Friday 22nd September

On the final weekday of Rivers Week, we were very much focussing on sharing best practice and learning from other catchments in the wider area.

Education Officer, Laura, hosted representatives from the Evenlode Catchment Partnership at the River Chess. We were able to showcase the great work we have done and are currently delivering with schools and community groups in the Chilterns. It was a good chance to share best practice and ideas of communication on the issues that face our rivers.

Despite the Evenlode being a different river to the Chess, it seems the issues we face and the barriers to communication and education are similar. We look forward to continuing our relationship and collaborating further. 

Our Citizen Science Co-ordinator, Hannah, also attended the River Thame Catchment Partnership conference, held at the Wades Centre in Princes Risborough. The day consisted of a fantastic array of speakers from the Rivers Trust, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Buckingham Council and many more.

River Thames Catchment Partnership Conference speaker

Hannah also presented details of our citizen science work for the Smarter Water Catchment initiative on the River Chess, with plenty of interest in our water quality sondes.

Saturday 23rd September

On Saturday 23rd September we were joined by families from the South Bucks Jewish Community, who took a creative approach to Tashlich. Tashlich is a Jewish ritual performed around the time of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) that involves the “casting off” of the sins of the previous year. Traditionally this involved throwing bread into the water. The Rabbi explained that as awareness around water quality issues has increased it is now more common to visit water bodies for reflection, or to take part in educational or conservation activities.

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Our education officer Ceri was delighted to lead the group in a stream dipping activity so families could discover chalk stream wildlife for themselves. We also discussed pressures on Chilterns Chalk Streams and actions we can all take to help protect them.

This was also the date for our second citizen science Riverfly Training Day held at Latimer on the River Chess. We were delighted to train 15 brand new Riverfly monitors to survey their local rivers, including the Chess, Gade, Misbourne, Wye, Chalgrove Brook, Pinn and Roxbourne.

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Get Involved

Join your local river group, campaign for your local river, join in with some practical conservation work or become a citizen scientist. Find out how you can get involved.
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Our Work

Find out more about the work of the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project