Wetland brings fresh hope for River Hogsmill

Chamber Mead wetland in the early stages of construction. Image: South East Rivers Trust

A newly-constructed wetland will act as a pollution filter to protect Hogsmill River, an urban chalk stream in the south east of England.

When planting takes place in spring 2024, the wetland will protect and improve 5km of river downstream, filtering pollutants and becoming a haven for wildlife. It is a crucial project for the Hogsmill, which suffers adversely from pollution such as urban road runoff, sewage discharges and misconnected plumbing that sends drain water directly into the river.

The 2,000m2 Chamber Mead wetland was created by South East Rivers Trust (SERT) in partnership with Epsom & Ewell Council, which owns Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve.

SERT is now preparing a series of planting days. Schools, community groups and residents will be invited to plant vegetation specifically selected to filter pollution, trap sediments and attract wildlife. Plants selected include yellow flag iris, ragged robin, purple loosestrife and brooklime.

Guided walks, outdoor education sessions and a nature trail are also being planned.

"The water quality improvements that will result from the wetlands are designed to help the river become a healthier place for all."

Bella Davies, South East Rivers Trust
Construction of Chamber Mead has now completed. Image: SERT

Dr Bella Davies, co-chief executive of SERT, said, “We are delighted the construction phase of this important wetlands project has now been completed. It is destined to become a jewel in the crown of the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve.

“The public has shown great enthusiasm for this project, and we will soon be calling on volunteers and community groups to add the plants that will really make the wetlands flourish as a magnet for wildlife.

"The water quality improvements that will result from the wetlands are designed to help the river become a healthier place for all, especially wildlife that thrive in a chalk stream, such as brown trout.”

Construction of the Chamber Mead wetland is expected to cost £1 million, with funding coming from organisations including Thames Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Surrey County Council. Support has also come from the Coca-Cola Foundation, as part of its wider Replenish programme, which aims to restore millions of litres of water in this and other local catchments.

News about the wetland’s completion comes in the week of World Wetlands Day, on 2 February 2024.