Excessive water abstraction from the upper River Kennet could be a thing of the past; thanks to new proposals from Thames Water for a new £25 million drinking water pipeline that will significantly reduce the amount of water taken every day from the famous Wiltshire and Berkshire chalkstream.
The river, which is listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and one of England's best-known chalkstream fisheries has suffered badly from a lack of water over recent years due to the water abstraction from its upper reaches, and the reopening of much of the Kennet and Avon Canal, which has seen some parts – including essential spawning beds, almost dry up.
"The Kennet is an iconic English chalkstream which, as a fishery, has suffered from the double whammy of the reopening of the Kennet and Avon Canal, causing the silting up the gravel spawning areas, and low summer flows resulting from over abstraction,” explained Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator for the Angling Trust. “To be able to restore the flows to the upper river can only be a good thing for fish and other wildlife in the river."
“We are very excited to see this project really starting to happen now. It will provide protection for one of England’s best-loved chalkstreams, and we look forward to seeing a healthier river from 2016,” added Charlotte Hitchmough, director, Action for the River Kennet.
The Upper Kennet, is one of only 200 chalkstreams left in the world, and is home to species like water voles and brown trout, plus specimen grayling, roach and dace.
The proposed pipeline will take its water from the River Thames rather than the Kennet, and if plans are approved: it is hoped the work will start by May 2015.