Future Of River Darent At Risk, Campaigners Claim
The River Darent, a chalk stream river that runs from Dartford to Sevenoaks, is facing an uncertain future, it would seem, with campaigners warning that it could run dry unless water abstraction from chalk streams is reduced or ended altogether.
The Darent River Preservation Society (DRiPS) suggests that the amount of available water could be reduced by between ten and 15 per cent by 2050. During the summer months, some waterways could see between 50 and 80 per cent less water, Kent Online reports.
The river itself provides water to thousands of properties in Darenth Valley, the south-east and parts of London. Environmental officers were recently called to part of the river and found a sluice gate had been tampered with, so water had flowed into the tidal section.
This prompted chairman of DRiPS Stuart Merrylees to warn that that the river is already feeling the effects of a very dry summer and the flow is very low as a result.
“People just don’t realise the chalk aquifers under the river provide drinking water for tens of thousands and they are getting very low. We are getting worried the world at large is just unaware how critical the situation will become,” he went on to say.
As far back as 1985, the River Darent was named as one of ten rivers in the UK likely to disappear – which is why DRiPs was set up. The Darent Action Plan was launched in 1995 to help rescue the waterway and water companies did reduce groundwater abstraction as a result, but investment tapered off and the programme ended in 2013.
Michael Fallon, former defence secretary and MP for Sevenoaks, criticised Thames Water for abstracting from the River Darent. “At current levels, the Darent is set to run dry. That is even before you consider the nearly 24,000 new homes both Sevenoaks council and Dartford council have been instructed to build in the coming years.
“OFWAT must exercise greater control over unrestricted abstraction and hold companies like Thames Water properly accountable for their actions,” he was quoted by the news source as saying.
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