Keeping you at home

Working together
to safeguard our beautiful River Darent
Slide
Slide
Slide

NOTICEBOARD

Sewage Treatment for Sevenoaks? Find out what we learnt from Thames Water at our AGM .

The Darent River Preservation Society is committed to restoring and preserving the health of the Darent, its catchment and tributaries, its flora and fauna.

The chalk river – whose name originates from prolific oak trees that crowded its banks – rises in the Greensand Hills south of Westerham and runs for 21 miles through the Darent Valley to join the Thames at the Dartford marshes.

Once navigable in flat-bottomed boats as far upstream as Lullingstone, and with sufficient force to power up to 30 mills along its length, today’s river has been left on the brink.

Continuing over-abstraction by water companies, a changing climate and pollution threaten its survival – and that of the wildlife it sustains.

Join us and connect with people and organisations who are working to safeguard the future of the river.

Together, we can make a difference.

What’s special about the river?

What’s special about the river?

It’s a chalk stream – an internationally rare and precious freshwater ecosystem.

Why does the Darent need help?

Why does the Darent need help?

Sections of the Darent dried up in the past. Find out why it’s still under threat.

Do you live near the river?

Do you live near the river?

Are you worried about flooding, pollution or fish in distress? Advice, contacts and useful links.

Planning a visit?

Planning a visit?

Our suggestions for beautiful river walks and access points for the river.

The angler’s perspective

The angler’s perspective

Which fish are you most likely to spot and how healthy is the population?

Discover the flora and fauna

Discover the flora and fauna

Our handy guide helps you identify plants, mammals and aquatic life.

Our campaigns

Water neutrality

New development must embrace water neutrality to reduce further stress on water supplies.

Healthy river, healthy flow

Reduce abstraction, improve water retention in the catchment to restore healthy flow levels.

Invasive non-native species

Control and removal of plants and creatures that threaten the river and native species.

Get involved

Volunteer

Find out how you can get involved with citizen science initiatives and working parties.

Join us

Support our work by joining our society, keeping in touch through meetings and newsletters.

Come to our next event

Learn more about the river and issues at our events.

Water neutrality

The issue:

Pressure on water supplies is only going to increase in the future. Measures are needed now to ensure demand is sustainable. A sensible way forward embraces the principle of water neutrality. This requires that the water footprint of a community is the same after any new development takes place. It is achieved by reducing water demand within the development as much as possible and by offsetting additional demand through methods such as retrofitting existing properties.

What do we want to see:

  1. Embrace water neutrality in the planning system to deliver financial, environmental and social benefits. Less water will be used in homes, water bills will be reduced, and unsustainable abstraction from rivers and groundwater sources can be stopped.
  2. The requirement for all new-build properties to be fitted with water efficient products such as aerated taps and shower heads, water butts in gardens and low flush toilets.
  3. Greywater recycling and rainwater collection to be integrated into the design of new homes  for purposes such as flushing toilets and watering the garden.

Did you know?

24% of water in the home is used for flushing the toilet and 4% externally for the garden. A water reuse system could save at least a quarter of household consumption if it was installed for these purposes.

Progress:

The Darent runs through an area which is classified as being under serious water stress. While there is much talk about the need for a long-term plan to safeguard water supply in such areas, there has been very little action.

Progress has been made on linking the principle of water neutrality to new development but so far this is limited to a few councils in West Sussex. 

We will continue to lobby for principle of water neutrality to be adopted to ensure new homes are designed to be resilient and fit for the future. Ignoring the real consequences of climate change for the availability of water is neither sensible or sustainable.

Healthy River, healthy flow

The issue:

The river is nothing without water. Concern about water levels prompted the formation of DRiPS. We have made significant progress but low flow continues to be a problem. Levels regularly fall well below what is considered to be ecologically healthy. Even after the Darent Action plan, in 2021 the Darent and Cray were identified as being among the top five most abstracted chalk streams in the UK by the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) chalk streams group.

What do we want to see:

  1. A significant reduction in groundwater abstraction by water companies from sites that are close to and upstream of the river. This primarily relates to abstractions by Thames Water and SE Water.
  2. Nature-based solutions which help to keep water in the landscape, preventing run off into drains and out to sea.
  3. A better understanding of the role of weirs in sustaining water levels during periods of drought.

Progress:

In the latest Water Resources Management Plan from Thames Water, abstraction reductions are finally on the agenda. However, like many aspects of these plans, the ambitions are made for 2040/50 and beyond. This is too late. Over-abstraction has already continued for too long. Naturalised flow underpins all the other measures to improve or restore the ecology of our river, so a reduction in abstraction needs to be a priority.

The award of a Landscape Recovery Project to the Darent Valley Farmer Cluster with its focus on the theme of river restoration is an exciting development from many perspectives. River flows in the future will hopefully benefit from the introduction of nature-based solutions that improve flood mitigation and drought resilience.

Tackling invasive non-native species

The issue:

Invasive non-native species are a threat to native plants and animals. We are particularly concerned about Himalayan Balsam, American mink and signal crayfish.

What do we want to see:

  1. Understanding of the problems caused by these species and programmes to eradicate them from the river and its environs.
  2. Awareness by river users of the importance of following basic biosecurity measures - https://www.nonnativespecies.org/what-can-i-do/check-clean-dry/.
  3. Help from the local community in eradication programmes - particularly Himalayan Balsam.

Progress:

Thanks to the efforts of teams of volunteers working with NWKCP, Himalayan Balsam has largely been removed from stretches of the mid and lower Darent. However, vast fields of the plant have been found in the Upper Darent. Removal is important to avoid seeds being carried down river and re-establishing new strongholds. Balsam bashing takes place between June and mid-August.

Horrors of Himalayan Balsam