Letter: Water abstraction

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is a pity that Michael Price spoilt his elegant exposition on the chalk winterbournes of Hampshire ('Now they're smiling by the bournes,' 7 June) by misrepresenting the National Rivers Authority's operation of the Candover groundwater scheme.

We have never had to apologise for switching on the river augmentation pumps. They have brought benefit to the river Itchen and its users from Candover to Southampton. We have never made the sweeping statement that 'groundwater abstraction was bad for the environment'. Obviously over-abstraction, uncontrolled and unmanaged, can be very bad for the environment as has been experienced in chalk streams in Kent, such as the Darent.

The NRA is carefully assessing the effects of drought and water- company abstraction in individual cases, and where low flows are caused by over-abstraction appropriate remedial action is being taken.

Yours faithfully,

KEVIN WHITEMAN

Regional general manager

Southern Region

National Rivers Authority

Worthing, West Sussex

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