Campaigners working to save the river Ivel from drying up and being lost forever are celebrating an increasing flow of water and the consequent return of wildlife.

The Ivel is a chalk stream which runs through Baldock, Stotfold, Arlesey and Henlow and is home to a huge variety of rare and vulnerable wildlife.

There are about 200 chalk streams in the world, with around 10 per cent found in Hertfordshire, and species like water vole, wild brown trout and mayflies depend solely on these chalk streams to survive in the county.

The RevIvel Association is a community group formed in 2019 to help protect the future of the river Ivel. Member Sharon Moat explained how the upper Ivel - which historically had sufficient depth to be teaming with fish while also supporting four watermills, breweries and a watercress industry - was a trickle of its former self, at risk of being lost forever.

The Comet: This photograph of the river Ivel between Norton Mill Lane and Radwell shows how the water level had droppedThis photograph of the river Ivel between Norton Mill Lane and Radwell shows how the water level had dropped (Image: Sharon Moat)

RevIvel has repeatedly challenged Affinity Water over abstraction concerns, and worked with North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald, who helped set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Chalk Streams - which brings together supporters of England's chalk streams to champion their biodiversity through promoting environmental good practice, centred on sustainable flows and sensitive land management.

Sharon, who lives in Radwell, says there has been a significant improvement in the river's state.

Happily, she said: "The river has recently been magnificent and we have noted how the biodiversity has improved along with the increasing flow and volumes of water."

The Comet: Increased water flow has brought wildlife back to the river IvelIncreased water flow has brought wildlife back to the river Ivel (Image: Kathryn Mackenzie)

Kathryn Mackenzie, for RevIvel, added: "Although the upper Ivel was dry May 2018 to December 2019, life is returning to the river. Aquatic invertebrates, the eggs of bullhead fish, caddisfly larvae and the nymphs of mayflies have been found in river surveys. As well as being beautiful in their own right, these animals are important components in the food chain, supporting fish, birds and amphibians.

"Highlights noted along the riverbanks recently have been fresh otter droppings and a kingfisher. In surrounding fields, swallows can also be seen darting acrobatically for insects and, if you’re really lucky, you may spot a little egret.

"RevIvel’s ultimate aim is to return the river to a condition where brown trout can live."

Pupils at Baldock's Knights Templar School recently met with Sir Oliver at Ivel Springs Nature Reserve in Baldock, where the upper Ivel river starts, to talk about their environmental initiatives at the reserve as part of their Duke of Edinburgh silver award.

The Comet: North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald spoke to Knights Templar School pupils about the state of the river IvelNorth East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald spoke to Knights Templar School pupils about the state of the river Ivel (Image: Kathryn Mackenzie)

Taking part in the Great British Wildflower Hunt, the students recorded more than 16 species of wildflower in the meadow and reserve.

Evidence of water voles - Britain's fastest declining mammal due to non-native American mink released into our waterways - has also been recorded.

Sir Oliver said: "I was delighted to meet Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme members, who showed me the hard work they have been doing helping Ivel Springs and the stream. They have cleared areas to reveal the natural bed of the stream.

"We discussed the evidence they had found of water voles and the brilliant English flowers to be found near English chalk streams.

"The Ivel is precious to our area and the country and it was good to be able to share some of the work we have been doing on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Chalk Streams.

"The Government has agreed to take action to restore streams with low flows and work up a plan to tackle sewage spills into streams.

"RevIvel played a big part in helping to bring together chalk stream groups nationally to back the changes needed. Last time I visited the river Ivel, [in October 2019], it was dry and looked in need of some help, so it was great to see it with water back and looking cared for."

Affinity Water, which does not take water directly from the river Ivel, but from the chalk aquifer deep underground, says it plans to reduce abstractions from groundwater by over 623,000 litres per day by 2025.

If you want to get involved with the RevIvel Association, visit or email

Affinity Water has launched a campaign - SOS: Save Our Streams - which aims to help save chalk streams by supporting people to waste less water. For more about the campaign, visit