The river that gives Sleaford its name is being given a helping hand by the Environment Agency with the switch-on of a groundwater scheme.
Around 1.1 million litres of water a day is being drawn up from an underground limestone aquifer, via a 44-metre deep borehole, and fed into the River Slea, keeping it from drying out.
The ‘augmentation scheme’ ensures the river continues to flow during its driest months, benefiting local habitat and preserving the look and feel of the town’s water environment.
Almost 150 years ago, the river was described as “a never failing source of pure water” but natural and man-made changes to the environment and water cycle saw it dry up for extended periods from the 1960s.
The augmentation scheme was established in 1995 in response to calls from the local community, which values the river as an attractive feature.
For most years since, it has been supplementing the flow during the river’s driest months, which tend to be between July and December. Without it, the river would typically run dry during this period.
Claire Anderson, Environment Planning Specialist at the Environment Agency, said:
The Environment Agency exists to create better places for people to enjoy and wildlife to thrive. This scheme achieves both. By supplementing the flow of water, we contribute to the town’s cherished water environment and we minimise the environmental impact of dry weather, protecting the habitat in which dozens of species live.
After activating the scheme, Environment Agency officers monitor the Slea between the borehole and Cogglesford Mill, ensuring everything is working as it should.
The Slea augmentation scheme was activated on Saturday 15 July.