10. Minimise abstraction from Whitehall pumping station
Themes: Flow; People
- That there is water flowing along the whole length of the river at all times (excluding historic winterflowing sections)
- To increase the public's appreciation of the unique chalk stream environment and their participation in its conservation
Abstraction from Whitehall pumping station is devastating the Beane. This project aims to lobby and campaign for the closure of the pumping station, stopping the abstraction and thus restoring flow to the upper river.
Historically, the Beane was a famous fishing river, and also supported a number of commercial watercress beds and water mills. Local residents can remember a time when it was possible to swim and canoe in the river, and many recollect regularly seeing animals such as water voles and otters.
However, the groundwater which should feed the Beane now provides the water supply for Stevenage and surrounding areas. The Whitehall pumping station is licensed to pump 200 million litres of water a day from the groundwater. This over-abstraction means that the main source of the Beane is now the Stevenage Brook. Above this tributary, the upper river is often completely dry. The area is now officially recognised as ‘over abstracted’ by the Environment Agency.
The River Beane Restoration Association was formed over 20 years ago with the primary aim of campaigning to stop this damaging abstraction. They are currently involved with raising public awareness of this issue, and continue to lobby MPs, water companies, OFWAT and the Environment Agency. They actively encourage local people and community groups to get involved with their campaign.
OFWAT has approved Affinity Water plans to reduce abstraction by 90% in two stages:
- First stage - Abstraction rates to be reduced from 23 to 15 mega litres per day by April 2015.This has been achieved.
- Second stage - Further reduction to an average of 2 mega liters per day by 2018. This is being planned.