Chalk Stream Info Session

On 29th April, we held a “drop-in information session” at the Gaywood Library providing information about chalk streams and river health, particularly focusing on the Gaywood River. The latest event in our ongoing campaign since 2021 to raise awareness of the poor health of our town’s forgotten chalk stream. 

XR members produced info boards detailing the signs of good chalk stream health compared to signs of poor health, and showcased photos from our very own chalk stream the Gaywood River. We also had a showing of a video by Norfolk Rivers Trust presented by Stephen Fry, who had signed our previous petition to the Environment Agency putting pressure on them to address the state of the river. 

After we packed up at the library and went home, multiple volunteers reported to us that there was a strange sludge in the river this evening. The issues facing the Gaywood river are relentless! The ‘sludge’ appears to be floating from upstream of the Gaywood area and accumulating along Gaywood allotments. It’s unclear if this is a result of the sewage spill in Grimston earlier in the week. Photos included. 

Campaigner Julia Irving said of the Library event “It was very moving to hear local people who live near the Gaywood river speak of the distress and anger they feel about the state of the river. We heard stories how in their childhoods they swam, fished and sailed rafts on the river. Most said it looks like a drainage ditch that they wouldn’t dip a toe into now.”  

The river has been plagued by pollution, over abstraction, and neglect from responsible authorities. The Gaywood River is a tale of two chalk streams. Upstream is in better health, it has crystal clear water and flourishing plant life. Downstream is another matter; the water is murky, plants are dying off and there is algae overgrowth. All signs of very poor river health. 

Jenny Walker, also of Extinction Rebellion said “Unfortunately, the government hasn’t helped; in fact the reverse. In 2021 there was a bill to stop water companies pumping sewage into rivers but the Conservatives including local MP James Wild voted against it, allowing water companies to carry on polluting.”