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Chalk streams

Chalk streams

Chalk streams are internationally rare habitats. About 85% of the world’s chalk streams are in the UK, mostly in the south and the southeast of England. They provide habitats for many significant species, including brown trout and water vole.

In Cambridge, Bin Brook, Cherry Hinton Brook, Coldham’s Brook, Hobson’s Brook and Vicar’s Brook are all chalk streams. The chalk aquifer they emerge from, to the southeast of the city, is a main source of water for residents and businesses.

Protecting and improving our chalk streams

Greater Cambridge Chalk Streams Project

We and Cambridge Water commissioned the Wildlife Trust and the Wild Trout Trust to assess the health of local chalk streams, including some outside Cambridge.

The report provides a brief overview of the main problems affecting each chalk stream, and the key opportunities to improve each one. It also identifies some potential projects for delivery with stakeholders and landowners.

The aim of the report is to start conversations about what needs to be done, where, and by whom. We want it to facilitate the funding and delivery of projects that will improve the streams’ health and resilience, while the longer-term problem of low flows is addressed.

Most of the streams listed in the report have at least one local person or group who know the stream very well and will be able to help plan improvement projects.

Cherry Hinton Brook and Coldham's Brook improvements

During 2022, we have worked with the Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook to further improve the upper reaches of this chalk stream and with Abbey People and Keep Britain Tidy on the downstream Coldham’s Common section. Trees and scrub have been thinned to allow more light for aquatic plants and gravels introduced to encourage invertebrates and spawning fish.

We have secured funding via the Cambridge Nature Network for further habitat enhancement works on the Stourbridge Common section this winter.

As the project develops we’ll share more exciting news, projects and opportunities to help protect your local stream.

Tips and advice

Much of the water we use in Cambridge comes from the same source that supports our chalk streams. Using less water, particularly in warm, dry summers, leaves more to support the environment. Check the Cambridge Water website for information about why you should save water.

If you’re responsible for a chalk stream, the Wildlife Trust offer advice about improving water quality and wildlife habitats.