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Rivers: Hertfordshire

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research into the current and future condition of the chalk rivers of Hertfordshire. (209570)

The Environment Agency set up the Restoring Sustainable Abstraction (RSA) Programme in 1999 to identify and catalogue those sites which may be at risk from unsustainable abstraction. The aim of the RSA programme is to implement solutions to improve the flow and ecology of rivers.

The Environment Agency is currently investigating a number of rivers within Hertfordshire including the Gade, Bulbourne, Mimram, Beane, Ver, Colne, Rib and Stort.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to encourage improved water flow in the chalk rivers of Hertfordshire; and if he will make a statement. (209609)

The Environment Agency and Three Valleys Water are currently seeking solutions to the long-term challenge of reversing the impact of over-abstraction on flow levels within the Hertfordshire Chalk streams.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on the ecology of the chalk rivers of Hertfordshire of current rates of water abstraction. (209634)

The ecological quality of chalk rivers is assessed by the Environment Agency using nationally recognised procedures. Invertebrates, fish and aquatic plants are regularly monitored. The precise number of monitored sites and the frequency of sampling varies from river to river and is related to the severity of low flows thought to be attributed to abstraction.

The Environment Agency uses monitoring results in the development of Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies (CAMS). As a result the Upper Lee and Colne have been given ‘over abstracted’ status. This defines a future licensing strategy to prevent further over-abstraction and to improve current status.