The entire eastern expanse of the Cam and Ely Ouse catchment area is supported by a large chalk aquifer which gives life to chalk streams from the Rivers Wissey, Little Ouse, Thet, Lark and Cam.Groundwater is not only important in supporting river flow – it also supports many water users (e.g. agriculture, public water supply and industry) as can be seen by the number of abstraction points (black triangles) on the map above. This groundwater is under threat. Abstraction, agricultural nutrients and pesticides, industrial discharges, historic landfill and bacteria can all impact the amount of good quality water that’s available in the aquifer. Protecting these can be tricky as quality can often be determined by the way the land was used 20-40 years ago (as this can be the travel time through the soil). Regulation, such as nitrate vulnerable zones and source protection zones have been in place for several years and are a hugely positive step in protecting groundwaters but more can be done.
To help tackle these issues, we have begun a project in 2017 known as “Topsoils” which will look at realistic on-farm interventions to protect groundwater. Find out more on our Topsoils project page.