Water Abstraction

Throughout the country water is abstracted from our underground aquifers and rivers for use in  agriculture, business and for use in the home. As the UK population rises and temperatures increase due to climate change our water usage will continue to climb putting a huge stress on our water supply and indeed our freshwater ecosystems.

Many rivers and natural environments are suffering damage on a regular basis as a result of over-abstraction of water, and not leaving enough to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Some rivers are drying up completely (chalk rivers in the South East in particular), which can be fatal for the wildlife that relies on them. But also significant water-level drops can mean pollution becomes more concentrated and also the water becomes significantly warmer which reduces the amount of oxygen available for aquatic wildlife. Abstraction from ground water sources can also cause environmental problems by reducing flows to lakes, rivers and wetlands.  

Currently over abstraction isn’t a huge threat to the river Thame and its surrounding freshwater habitats but it is more than possible it will be in the future.

What can you do to reduce the pressure on our rivers and aquifers?

The best thing you can do to relieve our rivers is to reduce your water consumption in your home. This may sound easier said than done but here are a few tips:

  • Sign up for Thames Waters free water saving gadgets
  • Re use water where you can – i.e. don’t simply empty your paddling pool use the water to wash the car or water the plants.
  • Install your own water butt to water your garden or top up your garden pond.
  • Ensure your you have a full load before you put your washing machine or dish washer on.
  • Have showers instead of baths. The average bath uses 35 to 50 gallons of water, whereas a 10-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead only uses 25 gallons.
  • Fill a jug of water and put it in the fridge for when you want a cool drink instead of letting the tap run.

A dry River Chess in Hertfordshire (Charles Rangeley)