ARK's work for the River Kennet to flow further downstream
At the AGM of Action for the River Kennet (ARK) its director, Charlotte Hitchmough, announced that, in line with their strategy to become more active in the middle and downstream reaches of the Kennet, they will soon be recruiting a new member of staff to run projects between Hungerford and Reading.
The meeting was held on Thursday (November 9) in the Town Hall - where ARK held its first meeting twenty-seven years ago.
The charity noted 'with great pleasure' that Thames Water has reduced the quantity of water abstracted from the River Kennet, which has been one of the group’s key campaign targets. ARK’s Chairman Richard Clarke: "This is a real cause for celebration, as is Thames Water’s ambition to perform better than the new abstraction licence requires".
He reminded the audience that as less water is being exported to Swindon it is important that people along the Kennet Valley play their part by using only the water they need.
The ARK committee and members recognised the important part volunteers play in keeping the river in good health. ARK's 2017 Volunteer of the Year awards were presented to two equally worthy winners Dr Rodney Owen Jones and Judy Pitts.
As well as appearing on Country File as a one of ARK's Marlborough volunteers, Rodney Owen Jones has been monitoring 18 river fly sites every month for the last five years. The data he has collected form a critical part of ARK’s understanding of the state of the river, and an early warning of pollution.
Judy Pitts has been volunteering with ARK for more than four years. She works with school groups as well as monitoring riverflies, water voles, trout spawning and water quality and helping with practical tasks and keeping an eye on ARK’s livestock.
Judy and Rodney’s input represent just some of the 6,500 hours donated by ARK volunteers in 2016-17.
The audience at the meeting - which included Kennet Valley residents, river keepers, riparian owners, volunteers and ARK members - heard Del Shackleford from Reading and District Anglers explain his Kennet roach breeding project, which is helping to bolster the population of this important fish in the river.