WATER will not return to the dried up River Chess in Chesham until at least spring next year, the chairman of an environmental group has said.

River Chess Association member Paul Jennings explained the situation was ‘very bad’ at the moment and he expects the problem to worsen in the summer.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that Buckinghamshire is officially in drought on Monday.

Mr Jennings said: “We’re very concerned. When the summer kicks in will be when the real problems arrive because people need more water. I’m not quite sure when the hosepipe bans will come in but they will arrive shortly.

“Chesham has been dry for about eight months. I don’t see water coming back to that stretch of the river until at least next spring. It will be a long process of recovery. Even if it rains now until the end of May it would do very little. It would require huge amounts of rain.”

Mr Jennings explained wildlife is suffering from the drought and members of the public have been rescuing fish caught in water pockets. He encouraged people who spot isolated fish to contact the Environment Agency.

Mr Jennings is urging people to make more effort to conserve water.

He said: “We each need to play our part in this and do more to save water. It’s about finding ways of saving and conserving. Use it sparingly. Harvest what you can at the moment so you can use it in the summer.”

Mr Jennings said the association is also putting pressure on water provider for the area, Veolia, to import as much water as it can from wetter areas. It is also working closely with the Environment Agency.

BBC Radio Four’s Today reported live from Chesham last Thursday about the drought after it spotted the Examiner’s article from November titled Dried Up River Chess May Never Recover.

* Are you worried about the River Chess drying up? Email our letters page at bucksnews@trinitysouth.co.uk.