top of page
River Colne - Water Quality Forum.jpg


  • What is the River Colne? Why is it important?
    The River Colne springs from an underground river located in North Mymms Park and flows south west, alternating between both the urban and rural landscape typical of the south of Hertfordshire before reaching Watford.
  • What is Rediscovering the River Colne?
    Watford Borough Council's (WBC) and Groundwork ten-year programme, ‘Rediscovering the River Colne’, is a ground-breaking project that aspires to bring the Colne back into to the heart of Watford Town and its residents. It will see the river become an asset within the borough, contributing positively to the lives of local people and wildlife, increasing access, biodiversity and amenity value.
  • Who are Watford Borough Council working with?
    Our partners throughout this project are: Groundwork (East & South) Hertsmere Borough Council Environmental Agency Affinity Water Thames Water ColneCAN Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative Community Connections Project Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust Veolia UK Watford Green Gym Sustans Among other local stakeholders and community groups.
  • Why is the programme needed?
    The River Colne has shaped our history through local livelihoods with its influence reflected in the many locations attributed with its name. Furthermore, it provides a lifeline for food, water and shelter for many species to thrive. Although there are some good quality habitats located along the River Colne in Watford, it is currently not achieving 'good' status. Thus, work is required to improve the habitat along the river corridor and help contribute to enhancing the River Colne status under the Water Framework Directive.
  • What is the 'Water Framework Directive'?
    The European Water Framework Directive came into force in December 2003. It provides an opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment. The Water Framework Directive requires that all European Member states’ water bodies reach Good Ecological Status or Potential by 2027.This has been taken into UK law upon our departure from the EU.
  • How will this benefit Watford residents and visitors?
    The project aims to provide sustainable solutions to resolve the issues affecting the river and to regenerate the public spaces it flows through, providing a healthy river corridor with clean water, diverse wildlife and low flood risk that is accessible to all and of high amenity value to local people. The River Colne corridor will become a positive asset within the borough, enabling it to reach its full potential for both local people and wildlife, both today and for future generations to enjoy.
  • How will I be notified when the river improvement works are happening?
    WBC will update this webpate so we encourage you to regularly check to see about upcoming works. There will also be communications including on our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and signage/posters around the work area. Example of notice board for tree works (February 2023)
  • Will I still be able to walk through public during the river improvement works?
    Yes, walking routes and thoroughfare will still be accessible in parks with diversion signs in place. To note: public will not be able to enter contractor working areas to ensure safety for all people.
  • Why will trees be removed as part of the river improvement works?
    Some trees will be removed as part of the river improvement plans to provide a balance of tree cover along the River Corridor, to provide maximum positive outcomes for the river corridor and species within it. We will be planting new trees, shrubs and native species within the wider project area. Click here information about the works currently happening (February 2023)
  • How will Watford ensure they are protecting the environment during these works?
    The council declared a climate and ecological emergency in 2019 and is committed to protecting the environment. These works are just one of the many actions we are taking to become net carbon neutral by 2030. Other include: planting 20,000 trees over the next 4 years, creating wild flower meadows and transforming the way people travel around Watford. For more information, please click here.
  • Will the river improvement works disrupt local wildlife?
    The works being carried out will not disrupt the local wildlife and if any protected species are found, all works will cease and the proper process will be followed. An ecologist will be onsite during the works to undertake surveys and study of native plants and wildlife to ensure there is minimal impact during these works.
  • How can I tell if there's a misconnected pipe?
    A ‘misconnected’ pipe is when toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and other goods are incorrectly plumbed into a surface water drain. This can allow wastewater and chemicals to drain away into rivers and streams, damaging the environment and harming wildlife. This is illegal (under Section 109 Water Industry Act 1991) and it is the householder’s responsibility to ensure all household goods are plumbed into the wastewater sewer so it can be taken away and treated. For more information on identifying misconnected pipes and the sewage network, please click here.
  • What should I do if I see pollution in the water?
    If you see pollution in the River Colne (e.g. sewage solids, toilet paper, condoms, sanitary products, noticeable sewage smells) please call Thames Water on 0800 316 9800. They will ask: what you saw, when you saw it, where (including postcode, road name or local landmarks and features) and whether the sewage is entering the river or any other watercourse. For more information on reporting pollution, please click here.
  • How can I become involved in the River Colne project?
    If you would like to get involved with helping us survey the river for pollution incidents, or help the project monitor water quality, please check the ‘Get Involved’ page for upcoming events, or express interest in volunteering via the ‘Contact’ page.
bottom of page