Hertfordshire's population increased substantially in the second half of the twentieth century, and a licence was given to abstract water near Aston for Stevenage's water supply. The river has been adversely affected by over-exploitation of the chalk aquifer in its upper reaches. The photo shows a section south of Walkern where since the 1990s there has been only seasonal flow. The river was once big enough to power a watermill at Walkern and support watercress beds.
Consideration has been given to find a way of replacing the water currently abstracted near Aston with water from a less environmentally damaging source. However, the River Lea's catchment area as a whole is under pressure, and it is difficult to find another source of fresh water. One possible approach to the restoration of the upper Beane is to use recycled water from sewage treatment works. Currently sewage from the Stevenage area is pumped down the Beane valley to Rye Meads near Hertford for treatment.
- Waste Water Report, Halcrow Group
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about River Beane)
- Press release for WWF report "Riverside Tales", 2010-04-28, WWF-UK
- Launch of the WWF report on the Rivers Beane and Mimram, Oliver Heald MP comments on WWF report.