Thames Water has cut the amount of water it takes from underground sources near an important High Wycombe chalk stream by more than seven million litres a day - in a bid to help wildlife.

For more than 100 years, water has been pumped from deep underground boreholes at Pann Mill near the River Wye to meet the needs of thousands of homes and businesses across the Wycombe area.

However, investigations have revealed that it can harm the health of rare chalk streams - so they are no longer a sustainable source of water for the company.

Thames Water is now reducing the amount of water it pumps from the Pann Mill boreholes - leaving more in the ground to support the flow of the River Wye.

Instead, the company is taking water from boreholes in Medmenham, near the Thames, instead.

In the Chilterns average daily water use is around 173 litres per person - 30 litres more than the national average and much higher than in countries like Germany, where residents use just 121 litres each, per day.

This has prompted another warning from the company not to waste any water.

Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager at Thames Water, said: “Every drop of water we all use comes from the environment so the less we use the more is left in rivers and the underground aquifers that feed them, to sustain wildlife.

"We’re working hard to reduce the amount of water we lose to leaks and reduced this by 15 per cent last year, but while we continue to do our bit to leave more in the ground to support chalk streams, we also need everyone to use a bit less.

"It’s vital that at a time when we’re seeing the impacts of climate change and more people move into our area, there’s enough water for everyone.

“Really simple changes like spending one minute less in the shower every day, fixing a dripping tap or toilet or watering the garden with a can instead of a hose, can make a massive difference and also save households money on metered energy and water bills.”

Mike Overall, chairman of the Revive the Wye Partnership added: "Since we formed the Revive the Wye Partnership (RTW) in 2008, the many improvements made to the River Wye have increased the quality of the chalk stream, its wildlife and its river margins.

"RTW volunteers have played a major role in these restoration achievements.

"Thames Water's decision to reduce the amount of water extraction at Pann Mill will help sustain those improvements and aid further enhancements in the face of high and increasing demands for domestic water."

The company is also planning to close a groundwater source at Hawridge, near Chesham, by the end of 2024.

Allen Beechey from the Chilterns Are of Outstanding Natural Beauty group said: "Chalk Streams are globally rare with just 260 being found worldwide.

"Eighty-five per cent of these beautiful streams are found in England. They are our rainforests and a have a special responsibility to conserve them for wildlife and for future generations to enjoy.

"The chalk streams that flow through the Chilterns AONB are widely regarded to be the most threatened of all chalk streams in the world.

"They have suffered increasingly from low flows and dry periods for over half a century. Just last summer 60 per cent of the total length of chalk stream habitat in the Chilterns AONB was dry.

"The reduction in abstraction at Pann Mill by Thames Water and their announcement of a further significant reduction in abstraction at Hawridge by the end of 2024 therefore, is great news for both the River Wye and the River Chess and will go a long way towards reversing the decline of these truly special streams."