Deluge after that drought has amazing effect on reviving River Kennet

Written by Gerald Isaaman on .

Charlotte Hitchmough, Director of ARKCharlotte Hitchmough, Director of ARKAs Thames Water is about to end the hosepipe ban, Action Kennet (ARK) has revealed that the deluge of rain after one of the worst droughts in decades has boosted the sad state of the River Kennet.

Now it is planning to create a “ladder” to enable fish to climb back into the upper section of the rare chalk stream that lost its fish when the river ran dry months ago.

“The rain has had an amazing impact on the river,” Charlotte Hitchmough (pictured), ARK’s director, told Marlborough News Online. “The cold weather has meant that very little water is evaporating and the aquifer levels are rising.”


June 11 was the wettest day of the month

Eric Gilbert, who runs Marlborough’s own weather station, has revealed in a report for Marlborough News Online how dramatically the weather scene has changed.

“The year 2011was the second driest year I have recorded followed by February 2012 with 45 per cent of the long-term average and March that produced just 40 per cent,” he says.

“Now the scene has changed dramatically. April this year produced a total rainfall of 145.8mm and was the third wettest I have recorded and was followed by May being the wettest for four years with 52.4mm.

“June has followed the trend with 134  per cent of the long-term average already, with a total of 73.8mm in the first eleven days. The wettest day of this month so far, June 11, delivered 23.4mm, which is half the long-term June average in just one day.

“Going through my rainfall data over the past 29 years I find that the previous higher daily total was 41.7mm on August 22, 2010. The record for daily rainfall since my station started in 1984 was a total of 45.4mm on May 27, 2007.”





“The Kennet is flowing along its whole length, with even the winterbourne's full.  There has been so much rain that the levels in Marlborough today are 'above average' for the time of year.”

“And it's a great sight!”

But the problem ARK now faces is that the upstream section of the Kennet where graphic photographs showed whole sections totally dry during the worst of the drought.

That section, which was dry for so long, has no fish in it because they all died in the drought,” added Charlotte. “So although the river is full of water, it is not full of life.”

“One solution to this is to create a fish ladder in the middle of Marlborough to allow fish from downstream to make their way up to the headwaters again. ARK plans to build this fish ladder at the end of the summer ready for the winter spawning season.”

“It will be between Kennet Place and Town Mill, and will replace the steep drop by the bridge with a series of steps which the fish will be able to traverse.”

Richard Aylard, director of sustainability for Thames Water, has also revealed that the drought hit Kennet area may be one part of its territory where water meters may be installed on a compulsory basis in the future.

Thames Water is one of three authorities now able to lift the hosepipe ban whereas others that do not have huge surface areas of water are likely to keep it in place.

ARK believes the hosepipe ban did its work as “any drop of water we saved is a drop left in the river and will have helped the river to come back more quickly and flow better,” said Charlotte Hitchmough.

“In this area we have one of the highest water use rates in the UK, and we rely on a fragile groundwater source to supply our homes in the Kennet Valley, and homes in Swindon.”

“The same groundwater feeds the river too, so any we don't use is left to keep the river flowing.”

Everyone can reduce their water consumption all year round by signing up for the Care for the Kennet FREE water saving home makeover. Just call 0800 358 6665 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..