#67: Two Talks about the River Effra

At the Allotments Association, Community Building, 227 Rosendale Rd., SE21 8LR.

To book your free place, please email volunteer.growingrosendale@btconnect.com

A new way to manage water – a pilot study in the Lost Effra catchment.
Lucy Townsend. May 21, 2013 7:30 to 9:00 p.m..

Project Co-ordinator Lucy Townsend will discuss the opportunities for water management in this area and the role gardens and food growing spaces can play.
London Wildlife Trust has launched a new initiative, funded by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the Carnegie UK Trust, to look at how to transform a London neighbourhood using water management initiatives. The aim is to produce a water management strategy for the Herne Hill area. The Trust is working with key organisations including the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, Environment Agency, Greater London Authority, Thames Water and Natural England. A ‘how
to’ guide for local people will also be produced in December 2013.

Why do we need to think about water management?
•Rainfall is increasing in intensity
•Surface water flooding is a significant risk to London
•South East England has the highest average water use in Britain
•Increased population means increased demand on water and more development reduces green space
•Green spaces can support flood management, help improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitats, aid food growing and lower summer urban temperatures.

But why here?
See the route of the River Effra below, largely
buried under London in the mid-19th century. Some
flooding issues are attributed to the historic paths
of London’s ‘lost’ rivers; heavy rain in 2004 left
homes and shops flooded in the Herne Hill area.
Now, 5000 residential, 920 non-residential
properties and 11 local schools have been
identified as at risk. Ironically, the community is
within an area of water stress and is the third driest
borough in London. Ultimately, it’s a good
pilot study for future management strategies in
London.

For more information visit:
http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/lost-effra-project

The River Effra in our landscape.
Martin Heath. June 6, 2013, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m..
The Effra is our local river in Dulwich. Beyond Herne Hill, it runs on
through the flatter ground of Brixton and Kennington to join the Thames
at Vauxhall.

This talk will examine how and when the River Effra may have formed
and how it fits into the bigger picture of the geological history of South
East England. It will then provide an illustrated guide to the course of
the Effra, particularly in the Dulwich and West Norwood area, following
the largest channels downhill.

There has been much discussion about the former course of the Effra’s
tributaries, but in Dulwich and Norwood, the upper part of its course,
the question of where it used to flow is answered easily; it has cut deep
channels into the landscape. The Effra scooped the Dulwich basin out of
a patch of high ground, which boasts the highest hills in South London.
Gravel deposits at Crystal Palace indicate that earlier in the Quaternary,
a river flowed out from the area of the Weald to the south, towards the
Thames (whose mouth lay north of its present position) and across the
Dulwich area, before the high ground became isolated.

Changes in sea level and earth movements have both played important roles in the complex story of landscape formation in South East England. There is no evidence for ice sheets having advanced into Dulwich during any of the ice ages, so we need not imagine glaciers cutting into our landscape. However,
the ice ages would have had an important impact, because at these times, a larger proportion of our planet’s water was locked up in huge ice sheets on land. This meant that sea levels were much lower. At the height of the last ice age, we can add around 400 feet to local elevations above sea level. It has been pointed out also that there have would have been significant input of water from snow melt during the spring and summer. This intensified flow of water would have helped the River Effra to incise its channels deeper into the landscape.

Above left: The waters of the River Effra collected in the lake at Dulwich Park.

Below: The Rosendale Allotments are themselves set on a steep hillside looking down into the River Effra drainage basin.

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