What is a Smarter Water Catchment?

What is a Smarter Water Catchment?

To help protect and enhance the River Chess and its catchment, a pilot project – the Chess Smarter Water Catchment – is now underway.

It is being funded by Thames Water and delivered by a mix of partners from statutory agencies, non-governmental organisations, water companies and academic institutions – all with an interest in the welfare of the ChessAffinity WaterBuckinghamshire CouncilChilterns Conservation Board (CCB)Chiltern SocietyEnvironment AgencyHertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife TrustQueen Mary University of LondonRiver Chess AssociationSarratt Parish Council, and Thames Water.

What is a smarter water catchment?

  • Smarter – Tackling multiple issues by addressing them as a whole, with the aim of achieving multiple benefits.
  • Water – Focusing on three very different rivers within the Thames Water service area: the Chess, Crane and Evenlode. This will provide a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between rural and urban areas and the different pressures in each associated landscape.
  • Catchment – The river and all the land around it where the natural landscape collects water. It is important to have a catchment-based approach as many of the pressures faced by our rivers originate from across boundaries, places and systems.

A systems-based view of the environment

The project is looking to taking a ‘systems-based’ view of the environment, addressing multiple challenges and delivering landscape-scale solutions that make the most of bigger opportunities to aid nature’s recovery. The work is being led by stakeholders to make sure it reflects local needs and considers local knowledge. Over the next 10 years, the project’s steering group will be looking at six specific themes:

  1. Improving water quality
  2. Managing flow
  3. Managing Invasive Non-Native Species
  4. Improving wildlife corridors
  5. Involving people
  6. Working together

Chilterns ANOB

10 year Catchment Plan

Our 10-year Catchment Plan was published in March 2021, detailing actions under our key themes.

What are we doing to help rivers?

  • Funding fencing to enhance riverbank restoration.
  • Recruiting specialists to write strategies to tackle flooding within the catchment.
  • Empowering citizen scientists to monitor water quality issues, enabling us to have a better understanding of what is happening, when and where.
  • Engaging with farmers to look at how sustainable agricultural practices can be developed.
  • Working with two prominent water companies (Thames and Affinity) to share resources and specialists to make morphological improvements.
  • Lobbying MPs and the government to focus their attention on the importance of chalk streams.
  • Working across multiple organisations to increase the amount of educational content available to schools, colleges and universities, as well as individuals.
  • Providing training to understand the effect of emerging contaminants.
  • Collecting baseline data enabling us to monitor changes.

And much much more…

Our most current action plan is Working together to protect and enhance our water environment. It outlines the milestones and targets the initiative will be aiming to achieve in 2022/23.

Working together to protect and enhance our environment
Chilterns ANOB
Chilterns ANOB

Volunteering Hub

Have a look at all the volunteering opportunities that are available through our partner organisations around the Chilterns.
Chilterns ANOB

Chilterns Chalk Streams Project

Learn about our flagship partnership project, committed to conserving our threatened chalk streams and the wildlife they hold.