An update on the state of the aquifer (December 2000)

Two years ago, Andy Webb reported on the state of the aquifer that feeds the River Ver. For many months after that there was no change of any significance worth reporting. Very recently as we all know the downpours of rain have inundated flood plains in many parts of the country but mercifully not in this immediate area. Here Andy Webb reports dramatic changes in the health of our aquifer.

Rainfall and the aquifer, chalk groundwater September to November 2000

Rainfall in millimetres (figs supplied by Bob Norrish of Rothamsted)

Sep90.7(+ 39.1)
Nov138.6(+ 74.3)

These figures represent the wettest Autumn since records began at Rothamstead in 1852

Meteorological Office figures show that across England and Wales generally it has been the wettest autumn since records began in 1766.

Level of aquifer

figures supplied by Jenny Gough, Water Resources section, Environment Agency, Hatfield.

Heights are measured in metres above sea level.

MonthHeightMean HeightMax height

These readings taken at Ballington Farm in order to monitor the borehole situated north west of Flamstead. The figures for November show levels nearly two metres above average and, providing more rain falls in December/January/February, it seems safe to assume that the aquifer in the Ver Valley catchment will continue to rise. It must always be bourne in mind that there is a time delay between rainfall and aquifer recharge. This is most heartening for the health of the river and hence the watercress beds. The rainfall of April/May and that of September/October/November will show a recovery from the longest period of drought since records began in 1766. This raises the question as to whether periods of drought followed by flood is to be the norm from now on. Only time will tell.

What s happening along the Ver?


Standing water at the source is certainly caused by road run-off but at least it s wet. Water still flows from just above the Petrol Station to the Red Cow Farm cottages on to Watling Street and Markyate Cell where it disappears. There is no water in Cell Park.


From Hick s Culvert to Buckwood Road the spring flows from a pipe. There is some standing water in the river channel at end of the village (London Road).


There is water in the channel after the outfall of Markyate sewage works but at River Hill no water is visible on upstream side. Water flows from the downstream side of the bridge towards Chequers Hill. The Ver is uninterrupted from here. There is good flow at Chequers Hill and behind the Chequers Inn. Ponds here are mostly full.

Friars Wash

Good flow past the Pumping Station towards the M1. Standing water can be seen around Verulam End.


Luton Lane and Redbourn Golf Course 7th green on the valley floor is surrounded by water and the hole moved up the slope thirty metres away.. The river is flowing across the golf course towards the Bypass and Porridge Pot something it has not done for some years.

Below Redbourn

The flow under Watling Street site of Dolittle Mill between Redbourn and Redbournbury Mill is the strongest seen in recent memory. There is standing water in the meadows at Redbournbury and Punch Bowl and on towards Shafford.

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