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Geology, ecology, hydrology & management of Chalk springs

Geology, ecology, hydrology & management of Chalk springs

This research theme centres on the water supply, water quality, macro-invertebrate communities and management status of coldwater springs within East Anglia. Special emphasis has been placed on certain key species of flatworms (Planarians) and caddis-flies (Trichoptera) sensitive to water quality and temperature. The condition of a wide variety of springs and associated pools has been assessed, and hydrological and water quality data collected. Macro-invertebrate samples have been taken, and an assessment of the local and national importance of each site and suggestions for future management have been made. The identification of sites suitable for a coldwater fauna re-introduction programme has been a priority.

Polycelis felina

Polycelis felina

Agapetus fuscipes

Agapetus fuscipes

Springhead Management

Nine Wells is a coldwater Chalk spring near Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire, enjoying recently acquired Local Nature Reserve status. It is the source of Hobson's Conduit, a historic artificial watercourse that brings spring water to the centre of Cambridge. Water quality has been identified as a major issue at this site, both due to increase nitrate levels in the spring water itself, and because of accumulations of fallen leaves and debris in the springheads. Re-modelling of the springheads has increased flows, and together with channel and woodland management the heritage, geological, wildlife and amenity aspects of the site have been greatly improved. These works has been undertaken with Ellis Selway of Cambridge City Council, who jointly own the site with the University of Cambridge. The planned development of Addenbrooke's Hospital and Clay Farm, Trumpington will bring urbanisation to within 250m of the site. This presents considerable future challenges to the successful management of the site.

Map of Nine Wells, Great Shelford
Nine Wells, Great Shelford

16-year record of Nitrate levels at Nine Wells
Nitrate levels at Nine Wells