Local MP for Hertford and Stortford – Mark Prisk – opened a new state of the art weir, which looks like
steps, at Hartham Common in Hertfordshire on Saturday 25 October. The new weir has replaced an old Seventies structure, and will not only protect a main line sewer on the River Lee but will also improve conditions for both fish and canoeists. The old weir, which was exposing the Stevenage to Rye Meads trunk sewer (a branch of the main line sewer) has been removed by the Environment Agency.
The sewer is now hidden beneath a new gravel bed, removing the risk of moving water washing away the gravel beneath the pipe, which could break the pipe. A new two-step granite weir has been created downstream of the sewer which is low-level and unobtrusive so that it blends in with the surroundings.
Fish can't jump up more than a 350mm step as part of their migration and the new weir incorporates a two-metre wide pass, which means that they can now swim up and downstream for the first time in many years. It also allows canoeists and paddlers to move along this stretch of the river and was designed in consultation with Herts Canoe Club.
The opening event, which took place at 9.30am on Saturday 25 October, saw the canoe club demonstrate how the new weir has improved water conditions for their club members. MP Mark Prisk declared the scheme officially open by inviting members of the club to canoe down the weir, cutting the ribbon as they went.
Environment Agency project manager Brian Rochford said of the £310,000 project: “This work has not only helped to protect the environment by ensuring the sewer pipe is buried safely beneath the river bed, but has also improved fish migration and a local canoe facility. This project has created a weir that can be enjoyed by water users from all backgrounds for many years to come.”
Local MP Mark Prisk said: “I am delighted to be able to open the Hartham Common Weir. The rivers are a vital part of life in Hertford and it is great to see this investment.”
Darren Fergus, chairman of Herts Canoe Club said: “Sitting next to the River Lee, Herts Canoe Club is
ideally situated for local canoeists who enjoy paddling this stretch of river. Hundreds of canoeists have
learned to paddle here and Hartham weir is often one of their first thrills of the water. Hartham weir is a
safe water feature that has given local kayakers a taste of moving water and spurred many of them on to kayak down some of the best white water in the world.”
Cllr Diane Hollebon, Chairman of East Herts Council, who also attended the official opening, said: “One of our priorities is to care for our natural environment and this new weir will make Hartham Common an even more attractive place for users on the water, as well as those just happy to watch from the riverbank.”