When I worked for the Environment Agency, one of the last projects I managed was the installation of two new flow gauges on the upper reaches of the River Loddon near Basingstoke, Hampshire. The river starts life as a chalk stream fed by springs. Just downstream of Basingstoke, a major sewage treatment works discharges into one of the two channels of the river. The absence of gauges meant we didn't know how much river water was diluting the sewage effluent and couldn't accurately assess the influence of flow on the river's ecology and water quality. Information essential when making decisions on future housing development in the area.
We gained support for the project from local anglers, Maria Miller MP, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. My colleague, Mark Barnett, took over the project after I left in 2014. I was delighted when Mark invited me to an event last week to mark the commencement of gauging. Basingstoke and Deane funded the £50k cost of the equipment, the Environment Agency will pay for data services and maintenance.
The River Loddon at Old Basing, site of the new gauges.
Sam Everitt, Environment Agency Hydrometry Officer, explains to local MP Maria Miller how the new equipment measures river flows.
This remote controlled ARC boat uses ultrasound pulses to collect real time data on river flow for the EA. Able to operate in a wide range of conditions, it can provide important information during floods.
Maria Miller watches hydrometry officer Jez Hill put the ARC boat through its paces in the Loddon.
Smiles all round with the new gauges in place and already monitoring flows in this beautiful, but fragile, chalkstream.
Alan Gibberd (Gresham Flyfishers). Sam Everitt, Maria Miller MP, Cllr Hayley Eachus, Amanda Ingham (Hampshire IoW Wildlife Trust)