Rivers, and the underground reserves that feed them, provide our society with water, and water is vital to everything we do.
Without freshwater, we could not grow our crops, take a shower or bath, wash our clothes or stay hydrated. But it is this demand for freshwater that is putting pressure on our rivers and streams, and is often having a negative impact.
Low flows on the Darent (left) and Wandle (right)
Within our region alone, there are five water companies supplying water; all of which is abstracted from the natural environment. The more water we use, the more water these companies need to abstract in order to meet the demand, and the less there is in our rivers and streams for wildlife.
Do you know where your water comes from? A large proportion of the water in the south east is abstracted from the underground reserves of water (aquifers) that feed our chalk streams – a globally rare and protected habitat, with only 200 remaining worldwide. They are special habitats with clear chalk-filtered waters, which support a wide variety of wildlife and recreation and provide high aesthetic value.
Did you know the south east of England is the most densely populated region of the UK? This means the demand for water here is even higher, and is only projected to increase. With climate change altering weather patterns, the implications of this could be long periods of drought, and shorter but more intense heavy rainfall events.
What are we doing about it?
PROWATER is a new European project aiming to adapt the south east of England to climate change. Working with partners in the UK, Flanders and the Netherlands, the project aims to increase resilience to drought by improving how water is managed at a catchment scale. Click here to find out more about the PROWATER project.