River Protection Society
- where the water meets the fens -
We are a volunteer group interested in the history and biodiversity as well as the ongoing health of the Wilbraham Rivers.
This small endangered waterway is one of the few remaining chalk streams in the U.K.
New members are welcome
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Preserving Our River
We meet on a regular basis to discuss and review the river status. In addition an annual walk along the river is organised to highlight the extent, ecology and challenges that the river faces as Cambridge expands.
We work with the relevant (riparian) landowners and the Environment Agency to try and maintain the river flows and ecology.
This is challenging as in recent years the river system has tended to dry out in the late summer months. This is primarily because the groundwater levels decrease owing to both reduced rainfall but increasingly because of water abstraction from the underlying aquifer.
We have investigated the history of the river system and the origins of the changes made over the last century. The relationship with water mills is highly relevant and underpins some of the modifications made to the rivers. Prior to 1850 this system powered 4 water mills - at Fulbourn, Hawk Mill Little Wilbraham, Quy Mill, and Lode Mill at Anglesey Abbey. In this century there is only sufficient water to power the Mill at Anglesey Abbey.
This change is the result of the Inclosure Acts of the early 1800s and in the 20th century the abstraction of water at Fleam Dyke and the surrounding boreholes to supply residents and industry. This resulted in the river system having to be "augmented" by pumping additional water into the "heads" of the rivers during the summer. The ongoing expansion of Cambridge is creating challenges for the water supply - and our river.
The river is directly related to three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (Fulbourn Nature Reserve, Great Wilbraham Common, and Wilbraham Fen).
Where possible we work with the appropriate authorities, residents and a wider audience to promote and protect our river and the adjacent SSSIs. These include local water authorities, planning groups such as Water Resources East and advocacy groups such as the Cam Valley Forum.
We make representations to relevant planning proposals such as the Honey Hill Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Greater Cambridgeshire Eastern Access Plans.