A scheme to improve the water quality, flow and habitat of the River Ver in St Albans is to be examined and costed. Its aim is to return the river to a healthier, more natural state from Verulamium Park to the Sopwell Nunnery.
The scheme will look to restore its original characteristics including crystal clear water, a clean gravel bed and strong flows. It will also improve the aquatic environment to support a wide range of birds, plants, animals and fish such as water vole, brown trout and kingfishers.
The Ver flows through Verulamium Park along a straight, man-made channel elevated above the bottom of the valley on which it would naturally flow. As a result, it is sluggish, the bed is heavily silted and the surrounding habitat is of poor quality.
The Environment Agency will fund a feasibility study into the scheme and is working with Affinity Water and park owners, St Albans City and District Council. The study will assess what options there are, the likely impacts and the costs involved. It could eventually result in the river taking a different, meandering course through the park and the area around the Sopwell allotments.
The project could also benefit Verulamium Park’s lakes which have become silted and do not have a self-supporting natural eco-system. Planting is thought to be one way to reduce both the accumulation of silt and a consequent build-up of pollutants. Those conditions were blamed for an outbreak of avian botulism last summer which killed several wild birds.