The Gaywood River has been flowing from the West Norfolk chalk ridge for a millennia. It emerges from a long underground filtering process appearing as springs in Grimston and Gayton and that’s where its troubles begin. In recent years it has been ravaged by a whole set of problems that have reduced it to a sorry state.
At Gaywood River Revival we are drawing attention to the issues and the measures that will need to be taken to restore the Gaywood to its former glory as one of only 224 chalk streams in the world.
The biggest issues facing the Gaywood include:
- Flood ‘prevention’ activities – Straightening the river, dredging, vegetation removal and bank cutting. These actually increase the flood risk downstream.
- Land use – The wetlands and natural floodplains are being drained to the detriment of wildlife and the environment by arable crops that often require heavy irrigation.
- Over-abstraction – As more and more water is taken from ground sources feeding the chalk springs by water companies and agriculture, there is less left to keep the river flowing and healthy.
- Pollution – Agricultural chemicals, road run-off and waste operations are creating a toxic cocktail of chemicals in the lower reaches of the river.
- Sewage contamination – Leaking sewers, storm overflows, sewage treatment plants and mis-connected drains are killing aquatic life.
Each of these is contributing to the perilous state the Gaywood River finds itself in, with results being particularly obvious in King’s Lynn where the river is frequently to be found brown, lifeless and choked.
However, to have any chance of bringing the river back to a state where its waters are clean and clear for the fish and aquatic life that depend on it, we must take collective responsibility for our actions. Doing so would not only transform the Gaywood for the wildlife it supports, but also for those people whose lives would be enhanced by the river in good condition.
Should we succeed in doing that, then we will have preserved this unique and irreplaceable piece of living history for residents of King’s Lynn and the surrounding areas.