Drought in North East Herts

It is alarming that there have been reports in the press recently that this summer we should expect the worst drought since 1976. We have certainly experienced a very dry winter [1] with some parts of Eastern England receiving as little rain as the Sahara Desert in Africa. It is essential that we start to make alternative plans to ensure there is sufficient water in the East of England. Traditionally the east of the country is drier than the west of England and I think the time has come for water companies to create some form of water grid so that the East of England is adequately provided for. Equally, if there are to be any new developments in our area, it is essential that there is an ample supply of water to service new households too.

I am already receiving reports from Friends of the Mimram and the Beane Restoration Association of very dry conditions. One Mimram supporter tells me: “I have been regularly doing visual checks of the River Mimram at various locations for about three months. I thought you should know that at the moment there is a small flow in the section of the River Mimram below Tewin, but week upon week it has been showing progressive reduction. Also because the water depths and widths in this part have, to some extent, been maintained by the presence of some shallow historical weirs, the true low flow situation may not be immediately apparent to casual viewers. Therefore when the drought really bites the change in conditions could cause some shocks when people suddenly realise their river has ‘gone’ and assume it has ‘disappeared overnight’.

The situation at Digswell is very bad. A week ago at a location immediately opposite the Digswell Pumping Station the flow in the river was, in part, little more than a metre wide. Moreover I could walk through it in my shoes and no water reached the shoelace holes. Not very scientific I know, but sufficient to illustrate the situation I trust. These observations are identical to observations I made at the same location just before the river became dry in 2006.”

I am keeping in touch with the Environment Agency and hope our SSSIs at Ashwell (Upper Rhee River) and Tewinbury (Mimram) can be protected.

[1] http://www.environmentagency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/drought/31749.aspx

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