Work started on Monday 22nd January 2018 on a £20,000 project to restore to a tributary of the River Chess to stop flooding in Chesham Old Town.
Costing around £20,000 the project will be using local suppliers and follows an investigation by the Buckinghamshire County Council Flood Management Team after floods in 2014 which waterlogged homes that back on to the river.
Around 100 properties in the area are at risk of flooding.
The restoration work, which should be finished by the beginning of February 2018, will help reduce flood risk in Chesham Old Town, create a more natural aqua-scape and consign to history a century-old concrete weir.
The project aims to create more capacity, achieve a steadier flow and stop water backing up to cause flooding.
A shallow 100 metre channel will be replaced with a deeper winding channel using pre-planted coir rolls and chestnut clefts backfilled with river sediment and wood chippings.
One of two weirs, thought to have been built around 100 years ago to support Chesham’s famous watercress production, will be demolished to allow gentle regrading of the river bed and prevent localised flooding.
A belt of trees along the whole 200 metre stretch will be pruned to increase the amount of light to the new channel and dead wood is being removed where it endangers people or property.
The scheme is the brainchild of Buckinghamshire County Council’s Flood Management Team, working with the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, the Hundridge Estate and Chesham 1879 Lawn Tennis and Squash Club through whose land the river flows.
Chalk Streams Project Officer Allen Beechey said the 10-mile long Chess is one of several chalk streams that rise in the Chilterns. Chalk streams, which flow only when ground water levels rise, are a globally rare habitat, and England has the majority of them.
Bill Chapple OBE, County Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment, said: ‘By restoring this section of the River Chess, we’ll be returning it to a more natural state, which will allow the natural chalk stream processes to re-create habitat.
I’m very pleased our team have thought so carefully and creatively. They’re not only reducing a flooding risk to residents and businesses in the old town, but also working with local experts to re-create a habitat lost long ago, and which will be good for restoring flora and fauna to this reach of the Chess, and enhancing our local environment.‘