Saturday, 7 April 2012

Down on the Upper - River Kennet water levels remain depressed

Long term and ongoing concerns over the unsustainable abstraction of water from the River Kennet were once again highlighted in the BBC Panorama programme Drinking Our Rivers Dry, first shown in September 2011 (and still available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for another five months).  

By October local Kennet MP's Clare Perry and Richard Benyon (the Waterways Minister) were walking on dry river bed sections, and by November it had dried up almost completely above Marlborough leading to the reported deaths of thousands of fish, at the same time as this blog reported of the temporary closure of long sections of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Politicians continued to descend on the Upper Kennet through into January 2012 (Martin Salter is not a MP by the way), and on the 28 March DEFRA launched its “Love Your River” campaign "that aims to highlight the link between river health and water use, so that people understand and value water and take action to improve their local rivers and the environment around them."

However, rather than a 'Big Society' appeal to individual citizens to save water (there's nothing wrong with doing so, but it's not going to be enough on its own), the Government could actively investigate a legislative repeal of the regulations that require the Environment Agency to compensate Thames Water if their abstraction from the Axford boreholes were to be curtailed or ended.

With the South and East of England officially suffering from drought conditions, governmental prevarication now (see criticism by the WWF here) will condemn the River Kennet to possibly irretrievable damage. 

The Upper River Kennet looking upstream at George Bridge in early January 2009, mid-December 2009, and mid-January 2010.

The Upper River Kennet looking upstream at George Bridge as late as mid-June 2010, and carpeted with ranunculus at the end of April 2011.

Upsteam and downstream of George Bridge on the Upper River Kennet yesterday, 06 April 2012.