Watercress 44 - October 1998

How's the aquifer?

The Winter of 93/94 was a good one, fairly wet with some snow. So rivers draining from the Chilterns, like the River Ver, were flowing well. Since the end of April ‘95 we have seen drought conditions and groundwater levels have been falling ever since. (There was a short period of levelling off in May ‘96).

Due to Spring rain the aquifer has risen steadily every month since February. However, bear in mind that it started considerably below the 20 year minimum. In mid July the soil moisture deficit was about average for the time of year, (July and August were very dry months remember).

Most recent measurements (mid July) from Ballingdon Farm monitoring borehole (west of Flamstead, midway between the Ver and the Gade) show the aquifer is still 2 metres below average for the time of year, i.e. significantly below the average watertable figures. Environment Agency computer modelling showed that Spring rain was only 60% effective in percolating down to the aquifer because the ground was still so dry, even after winter.

We should not be too gloomy. Our watercress beds have had water all Summer. It has looked clear and well dressed with aquatic plants. Lets hope for a long, wet winter, with plenty of snow.

The River Ver is still dry down to Redbourn, and is still very low as it runs past the Watercress beds.

See the aquifer update for the latest on the state of the aquifer.

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