Keeping the river healthy
Proven sustainable operation at Oughton Head
Affinity Water maintains a licence from the Environment Agency to abstract water from Oughton Head to meet the local demand for water.
We are not applying for permission to abstract water from this facility. We are already permitted to do that under our licence from the Environment Agency granted in 1966 and updated in 2020.
Since 1996, Affinity Water has ensured water levels in the River Oughton are maintained to a minimum level in the Spring area when the site is in operation.
This is managed through a river support scheme and a process called augmentation, where we feed groundwater from our borehole into the river at the spring head.
Long periods without rain and hot summers can affect the groundwater table and in turn reduce the amount of water naturally rising to feed into the stream from the aquifer. This was observed during the period when Oughton Head has not been abstracting.
In the event that natural events like a lack of rainfall cause the river level to drop, we simply pump abstracted water in, to keep it at an agreed level.
The amount of water required when needed to top up the river to a minimum level is taken from the daily abstraction volume or quota. So, no more water is taken from the borehole than permitted under the licence and agreed with the Environment Agency in order to protect flows and the ecology.
Water abstraction at Oughton Head has been proven over decades under a range of hydrological conditions to be sustainable.
Our commitment to saving chalk streams
The River Oughton is a valuable chalk stream and our operations of Oughton Head in accordance with the licence conditions and flow augmentation will help maintain a healthy environment for wildlife and habitats.
Key documents and downloads
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Our work protecting chalk streams
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