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Revitalising the River Ver Project


Picture of the potential re-landscaped lake – with caption ‘Artist impression looking northwards from the Causeway towards Verulamium Park lakes’

Update February 2024 Toggle accordion

This is a hugely complicated project with many conflicting constraints. As a result it is unfortunately taking longer than we would hope.  

Reach 1.  Verulamium Park, Bell Meadow and Lakes 

Reach 1 - A preferred design has been identified; however, the EA (Environment Agency) and the Council is awaiting final archaeology results which have been delayed due to flooding.
The results will enable a Scheduled Ancient Monument consent application to be submitted to Historic England for consideration.
Funding remains a significant challenge; the Environment Agency estimates that the delivery cost for the whole project has increased due to inflation.

Reach 2 and 3. Verulamium Park, Causeway up to Cottonmill Allotments   

Reach 2 and 3.  The EA is in the final stages of developing the design.  They are also currently engaging with riparian owners on the work required in the river channel and any tree works. 

The River Ver

The River Ver in St Albans flows through Verulamium Park and the heart of the city. It is one of around only 200 chalk rivers in the entire world. 

Chalk rivers are fed from the chalk aquifer (the underground layer of rock saturated with groundwater). They are naturally crystal clear and support a huge diversity of habitats and wildlife. Their rarity and importance have led them to be described as ‘England’s Rainforest’. 

Unfortunately, like many chalk rivers, the River Ver has fallen into a bad state.  In St Albans, the river channel has been heavily modified over the years. The concrete banks mean it can’t support the habitats it should. In places, the river channel has been moved to support industry such as mills.  This has led to an artificially over-wide, over-straight channel and sluggish flows. These alterations contribute to the gravel bed being smothered with a thick layer of silt.
The river is also unable to support the iconic chalk stream plants we would like to see. One reason is that the channel is also overshadowed by trees which prevents light reaching the river and allowing chalk river plants to thrive. 

Verulamium Park Lakes

Built in the 1930s, the iconic ornamental lakes of Verulamium Park are also in a bad way. They are far too large for the flow they receive and are clogged with silt. The large numbers of non-native Canada geese add to this issue as their droppings contribute to the poor water quality. These issues are especially bad in summer months when so many people come to enjoy coming to the park.

Mission statement & project objectives Toggle accordion

Mission Statement

To deliver a publically supported, award-winning project and legacy on time and within budget through collaboration and efficient communication.

Our objectives

We will revitalise the water environment in Verulamium Park and build a legacy that St Albans residents and visitors will value, enjoy and benefit from. We will bring back a more natural chalk river, more resilient to climate change and better able to support iconic chalk stream biodiversity. We will restore the natural heritage of St Albans; creating more sustainable lakes and an improved park.

Outcomes and productCollaboration and peopleAspirations
  • Delivered on time and within budget
  • Supported by the public and key stakeholders 
  • Climate change resilient
  • Long term sustainability
  • Communicate our plans and celebrate our achievements 
  • Realising shared benefits through strong collaboration and effective communication
  • Working together to realise funding opportunities 
  • Meetings with a clear purpose that are timely and decisive 
  • Strong decision making 
  • Involving the right stakeholders at the right time
  • An award winning collaboration that leaves a long-term, positive legacy
  • Increased park visitor numbers & diversity  
  • A natural chalk river with characteristic native wildlife and species in Verulamium Park


Revitalising Chalk Rivers Toggle accordion

chalk riverThis project is part of Revitalising Chalk Rivers. Together, the Environment Agency, Affinity Water and other local partners are working to protect and restore our local chalk rivers. Numerous river restoration projects have been completed or planned.  Alongside these projects we are reducing abstraction (pumping or removing water from the groundwater or a river) to improve flows in the river.

You can find out more about Revitalising Chalk Rivers here.

The River Ver is in the River Colne Catchment Area. You can find out more about how our partners are working together to protect and improve the water environment for everyone by visiting the Colne Catchment Partnership website here.

Save water Toggle accordion

Using water efficiently will help ensure we all have enough water for our homes, to produce food, for products and services, and to protect our valuable natural environment. Abstraction of water can have a direct impact on chalk streams, and a large portion of water abstracted is used to meet the demand of the local population. In fact, Hertfordshire has some of the highest rates of water use per person in the country. Therefore, reducing your water use could directly benefit the chalk streams. 

Many people are not aware that actions like tipping waste liquids down roadside drains, flushing wet wipes or washing up greasy pans in the sink directly harms wildlife and affects water quality by causing pollution in local rivers, lakes and the sea.

Here are ten simple tips you can follow to help reduce your personal water usage:

Ten Top Tips for Saving Water

  1. Remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth – a running tap wastes approximately 6 litres of water per minute
  2. Take shallower baths. Running your bath just an inch shorter than usual can save on average 5 litres of water
  3. When you’re finished in the bath, reuse your bathwater to water your houseplants or garden
  4. Switch to a low-flow shower head. This will reduce your water consumption but still give you the feel of a normal shower
  5. Use a shower timer to help reduce shower time. If everyone used a shower timer we would save enough water to supply 1 million homes every day
  6. When washing up, use a plug or washing up bowl to limit the amount of water used rather than continuously running the tap.
  7. Make sure the dishwasher is only run when it has a full load
  8. Fill the kettle with only what is needed, this saves electricity too!
  9. Use a watering can instead of a hosepipe when watering your garden
  10. Install a water butt in your garden. You can use the collected water to water your garden or wash the car

Affinity Water

Cllr Working Group Toggle accordion

Cllr Working Group is a non-executive body. Its purpose is to provide guidance, assistance and support to the Chair of the Public Realm Committee and the project team on the subject of Revitalising the River Ver and the Lakes in Verulamium Park.

The Working Group meets as and when significant new information is available and when key decisions need to be discussed.

Revitalising the River Ver Working Group 


FAQ's about the condition of the Lakes Toggle accordion