A huge amount of data exists on the Chilterns streams which may be of use to students, researchers and interested individuals.

Water Situation Reports

Every month the Environment Agency publish reports on rainfall, soil moisture deficit, river flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels. Information about Chilterns streams can be found in the ‘Hertfordshire and North London’ area report, and the ‘Thames’ are report.

Water Situation Report

Riverfly Monitoring

Riverfly monitoring is carried out on a monthly basis. This citizen science survey uses the invertebrate life of the rivers as a measure of river health. More details on the survey are available from the Chilterns, Hertfordshire and Middlesex Riverfly Hub. Past survey results are available for the Rivers Gade, Chess, Wye and Hamble.

Water vole surveys

Full water vole surveys of the River Chess have been conducted at 2-yearly intervals since 2001. Between 2001 and 2003, a dramatic 97% decline in water voles was seen, this was attributed to mink dispersing along the watercourse and a mink control and habitat enhancement scheme was initiated. Following management there was a steady increase in numbers, until by 2011 the vole population recovered to its 2001 level. Find out what has happened since then in the latest survey report. Previous reports are available on request.

River Chess Water Vole Survey 2021


The ChessWatch project began in 2019 and is being led by Prof. Kate Heppell of Queen Mary University of London. Four water quality sondes placed at different points along the River Chess have been continuously monitoring water quality since 2019. Two further sondes will be added in 2022. The project has also conducted research into local awareness, perception and concerns for the River Chess. Real-time water quality data can be seen on the water quality dashboard.


ChessWatch Participatory Mapping Report

Chess Citizen Science Hub

Following on from the Chesswatch Project a citizen science hub was developed, turning the River Chess into an outdoor laboratory. Volunteers recieve training in Modular River Survey (asessing habitat, and morphology of the river before and after restoration work), and the ‘MudSpotter’ survey (which identifies sources of sediment entering the river).

For a deeper understanding on the River Chess please take time to explore the River Chess storymap collection and download the ‘State of the River Chess Report’, 2021.

State of the River Chess Report 2021

Find out more about Prof. Heppell’s work to monitor water quality on the River Chess by listing to the River Health podcast.

Academic Research

A number of students have undertaken research on Chilterns streams as part of academic qualifications. Here is a sample of recent work:


Assessing the reliability of the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) - MSc research by Caroline Cahill, UCL
Investigating ecological impacts of invasive freshwater demon shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes, Eichwald, 1841) in Lea Valley and Colne Catchment, UK, using citizen science tools. – MSc dissertation, Vivian Lee, UCL