A campaign group battling to save the River Ivel from permanently drying up and being lost forever has featured on the BBC programme Countryfile.

The Ivel, which rises in Baldock and runs through Stotfold, Arlesey and Henlow, is one of only about 200 chalk streams in the world, with around 10 per cent in Hertfordshire.

Species like water vole, wild brown trout and mayflies depend solely on these chalk streams to survive in the county.

RevIvel is a community group formed in 2019 to help protect the future of the Ivel. Historically of sufficient depth to be teaming with fish while also supporting four watermills, breweries and a watercress industry, in recent years it has become a trickle of its former self.


RevIvel has repeatedly challenged Affinity Water over abstraction concerns.

Kathryn Mackenzie, from RevIvel, has now appeared on BBC One's Countryfile to highlight the issue.

"There should be water and flow all the year round, but it's in a very sorry state," she said. "Increasingly, our river is dry for increasing periods of time."

The problem, she says, is over abstraction by Affinity Water.


Affinity Water, which does not take water directly from the Ivel, but from the chalk aquifer deep underground, says it plans to reduce abstractions from groundwater.

The water company "recognises the impact abstraction has on the chalk stream," Steve Plumb, Affinity Water's director of asset strategy said.

"The commitment long-term is we will stop unsustainable abstraction from chalk," he promised.

"The problem with that is we have to replace the water, and we can't do that overnight. We need to build some big infrastructure," including pipelines and reservoirs, to move water from other areas.


Steve added: "We are forecasting to have 10 per cent population growth in our region up to 2050. That and climate change creates a gap between supply and demand. That gap is between 250 million and 400 million litres of water a day - that's massive!"

Kathryn insisted: "We need to demand swifter change. Our rivers need help now. It can't wait."