Celebrating the River Kennet’s safer future
Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and Thames Water have celebrated the completion of Thames Water's £30 million pipeline project to reduce water abstraction from the Rivers Kennet and Og.
The event in Mildenhall marked the completion of the Thames Water pipeline bringing water to Swindon from the River Thames. This means the amount of water taken from the River Kennet during 'low flow' periods to supply Swindon households will be dramatically reduced - and some pumping stations on the Og and Kennet will now only be used in emergency.
It also marked a major milestone in ARK’s 27 year campaign to protect the River Kennet. The new infrastructure will help protect the wildlife that needs a healthy river in order to survive.
Over 100 people including representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England, WWF and the Angling Trust joined the event.
Thames Water’s CEO Steve Robertson: "Thames Water need a healthy environment to be able to supply our raw product: water. Without a healthy ecosystem we would not have a product to sell, and ARK’s successful campaign has led to us invest £30 million in this new pipeline to protect the Kennet. This is a significant step forward in a long journey to protect the environment at the same time as supplying our customers."
To mark the occasion, Steve Robertson presented ARK’s president Sir Nigel Thompson with a framed photograph of the Kennet.
Local children, Richard Benyon MP, and ARK’s chairman Richard Clarke joined Steve Robertson for a ceremonial release of baby eels - known as elvers. The elvers had been cared for by pupils from Long Lane School, Newbury as part of ARK's Water Matters project.
Richard Clarke: "Today’s event is a celebration of partnership working to protect one of the finest rivers in the UK."
"Releasing elvers into the Kennet is a symbolic moment: eels are one of the world’s fastest declining species, protecting the Kennet will help eels and other species to survive."
With the new pipeline in place Thames Water plans to reduce the quantity of water it abstracts from groundwater sources close to the chalk stream, in periods of low flow, to 6 million litres per day, with only 3 million litres exported to Swindon.
Action for the River Kennet would like to see this export reduced to zero, and they look forward to continuing to work with Thames Water to achieve this goal.
[Lead photo courtesy of Thames Water]