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  • by Karma Loveday

Thames plays a smart move with ten-year enhancement plan for river Chess

Thames Water has launched a ten-year plan, created in partnership with local organisations, councillors and community groups, to protect and enhance the River Chess.


The £3m project, which falls under Thames’ Smarter Water Catchments initiative, seeks to boost biodiversity and help address water quality issues, as well as providing wider benefits for local communities through better access, improved amenities, schools programmes, volunteering opportunities and health and wellbeing benefits.


Working in partnership with local stakeholders including the Chilterns Conservation Board and River Chess Association, Thames Water said it will tackle the issues of water quality and low water levels, which affect the River Chess, and support the health and wellbeing of Chess communities by:

  • carrying out improvements to Chesham Sewage Treatment Works to reduce discharges – it noted: “Thames Water sees all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable, and the Chesham upgrade will accelerate work to stop them being necessary”;

  • identifying sustainable solutions to river flow issues by working with groups such as Water Resources South East and Affinity Water who supply the area;

  • closing its water pumping station for the area in 2025, to reduce abstraction pressures;

  • re-lining over 10km of its sewer network in hotspot areas to prevent the infiltration of water;

  • improving opportunities for access by all user groups to the river and the wider valley landscape; and

  • creating programmes of education for local schools, colleges and special-interest groups while expanding its network of volunteers to involve a broader cross-section of the local community in practical conservation.

The company has also launched plans for the River Evenlode and the River Crane. The three plans were co-created in partnership with 67 organisations with interests in the rivers. Thames Water said it plans to expand this approach to other catchments from 2025 onwards.

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