CaBA chalk stream hub

One of the key recommendations in the CaBA Chalk stream restoration strategy was the publication of an online resource and data hub for chalk streams. I, for one, strongly felt that a large part of what has held back progress in the rehabilitation of our chalk streams has been a lack of knowledge and data – hence my own website chalk stream.org. Those who care about these rivers have been disenfranchised from the information needed to make arguments, to even join the debate. The relationship between groundwater abstraction and flows, for example, has been kept beyond the reach of the ordinary stakeholder because the figures just aren’t available, and the modelling is complex and inaccessible.

I could make the same point with regard to water quality. In fact, it was the publication of the WWF report Flushed Way in 2017 – brainchild of Rose O’Neill and Kathy Hughes – which brought the sewage scandal to light and compelled the collation of data which can now be used to quantify the issue and catalyse change.

Knowledge is the power to make change and we need knowledge on all sides of the table.

I’m delighted to say that the CaBA chalk stream data hub is now up and running. It is by no means yet a complete set of the data and information that will eventually become available: I hope we will be building it for a long time to come.

The hub can be found HERE

Take a look, for example, at the fascinating, interactive water quality dashboard.

I will post notifications on this blog as and when more data is published.

2 thoughts on “CaBA chalk stream hub

  1. Hi Charles, thanks for your message yesterday about the CaBA chalk stream hub, and indeed for everything you’re doing to build support for chalk stream conservation.

    I’m the chair of a community group in Faversham, Kent, called the Friends of the Westbrook and Stonebridge Pond. The Westbrook is a chalk stream flowing into the Thames Estuary from the Kent Downs chalk aquifer. In the past, it rose on the chalk downs themselves, but abstraction and other pressures have resulted in the flow today being much lower than it was 60+ years ago.

    The particular issue we have — on top of the usual concerns about water quantity and quality — is that there are many other, similar streams flowing from the chalk aquifer to the west and east of Faversham which, along with the Westbrook, do not feature on any of the maps of UK chalk streams, including the one on your new CaBA chalk stream hub. My question, literally, is what we need to do to get the Westbrook and all those other North Kent chalk streams onto the map? Most of them are fairly short — probably less than 1km long — but they flow from the North Kent chalk formation where it meets the impermeable clay of the Thames Estuary so they all satisfy the definition of chalk streams as contained in your CaBA strategy released last year.

    There is some urgency to rectifying the problem because Faversham is under extreme pressure from new housing development, with a new Local Plan in the works for the Borough of Swale, and we are concerned that increased water abstraction to supply them will lower even further the flow in our chalk streams.

    We are in touch with several other groups locally who, along with the Friends, I believe would be happy to pay someone to come and carry out whatever survey is necessary to get the Westbrook and the other nearby streams officially recognised. I am going to put the same question to the Chalk Aquifer Alliance and have a meeting later this week with a contact at the Environment Agency, whom I imagine may be able to advise as well. It looks as though the map in your CaBA chalk stream hub might originate with DEFRA, in which case perhaps they are the ones who hold the definitive database?

    In any case, I’d be very grateful for any thoughts / suggestions you might have.

    Thanks and best regards,

    Matthew.

    Matthew Hatchwell 57 Preston Street Faversham Kent ME13 8PG United Kingdom

    Tel: +44-(0)1795-530465 Mob: +44-(0)7976-605770 Email: mchatchwell@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Matthew, I did include the Westbrook in the CaBA index and you’ll see if you go to the new priority habitats map (check out my latest post) that these streams near Faversham are included as ‘lower certainty’: that means that they have yet to be verified, but have certainly been flagged and notified. Natural England hold the definitive database. I have sent your message to the lead there. ATB, Charles.

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