Fish were rescued as the River Mimram dried up last autumn. Now, with the very wet February and March, the river is full and flowing faster than it has done for years. Clear water bubbling along and clearing some of the silt which has built up over time starting to reveal the gravel bed of a chalk stream. The river is fed by the underground aquifer and the chart shows the highest level of groundwater for several years. (On the chart, the Green band is Average)
However, all the ‘river life’ was either rescued or died last autumn, so it looks pretty dead. The Environment Agency (EA) expect it to take three or four years for ‘river life’ to return to normal. (Does this sound familiar?) The hope is that fish will migrate downstream from parts of the river that did not dry out, such as the mill pond towards Kimpton.
So the plan is to conduct a series of ‘electro’ fish surveys throughout the year to see if the fish do return. To do this they hold a ‘wand’ with a low electric current in the water, which stuns the fish long enough for them to be counted and measured without doing them any harm.
The first of these surveys was done recently and, while they didn’t find much, they did find several bullhead fish – a start. And some tadpoles!
If the fish population does not recover over the next few years, they will restock the river with breeding fish.
However, in 2020 it seems to be one extreme or the other, in April we only got 24% of the average effective rainfall and May looks likely to be the driest May on record. Already the river level is starting to drop……