Rediscovering the River Colne is a ground breaking project that aspires to bring the River Colne to the heart of Watford Town and its people. 

Who is working on this project?

Watford Borough Council is working with the Colne Catchment Action Network to undertake a 10 year improvement programme for the River Colne in Watford. Catchment partnership hosts, Groundwork, have led on developing a project to achieve the Mayor of Watford’s vision for a heather river network in the town. Groundwork in partnership with The Colne Vallery Fisheries Consultative, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Community Connection Projects CIC, and Environment Agency are now in the process of delivering the initial phase of the project.

Why is the project needed?

The river Colne in Watford suffers from some of the poorest water quality and habitat quality in the catchment. The town has been a key focus area of the Colne  Catchment Action Network for some time now. Local people also that the is in many parts dirty, inaccessible, unkempt and of low wildlife value. Groundwork has a bespoke approach to project delivery that utilises the skills of key partners in the Watford area, to improve the local environment for wildlife and to engage local people with the river as a place to enjoy and conserve.

What is happening?


Rediscovering the River Colne will improve the River Colne and its’ green corridor for local people and wildlife. We are currently producing plans to demonstrate how the river corridor will be restored in addition to showing how access will be improved to key riverside sites. Our improvement plans will present a work programme to be delivered by local volunteers and specialist contractors over a 10 year period.

We are also working to resolve the chronic pollution issues that affect the river throughout the town centre, by facilitating a regular water quality forum between Thames Water, Watford Borough Council, The Environment Agency and key project partners.


Rediscovering the River Colne will be delivered by organisations with the best knowledge of Watford’s ecology and local communities, in addition to having an understanding of the issues being tackled on a catchment wide scale. The project aims to instil a sense of civic pride amongst local people through developing a new volunteer force to survey wildlife, monitor water quality and to improve and maintain the river on an ongoing basis.


The river corridor will be brought into the heart of the community through a programme of volunteer days, events, information and tailored communications, enabling local people to become stewards of their environment. A fully inclusive community engagement strategy will be implemented in order to ensure the people of Watford are involved with each element of the project we deliver.

The group would consider wide ranging aspirations and ideas for innovative and effective engagement. Engagement opportunities identified will range from one off ‘learning walks’ and events, to training programmes linked to site improvements and monitoring offering longer term engagement opportunities.

We aspire to the river will becoming a cherished blue asset that is intrinsically linked to the character of the town, its people, its heritage and its future.

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