Thousands of fish have been saved as part of efforts to restore a ruined river to its former glory.
Work to replenish a neglected section of the River Darent, which usually flows through Dartford Central Park, via the Acacia Hall development, is edging towards completion.
A joint restoration project to rejuvenate the dried out river is being led by the South East Rivers Trust with the backing of Dartford council, the Environment Agency and the Veolia Environmental Trust.
The landscape re-imagining forms part of the council's wider £5m shake up to the Acacia Hall complex .
Staff started work with local contractors in January to re-introduce chalk stream habitats using nature-based methods and materials.
The enhancement works took place in a virtually “flow free” channel, using a temporary dam to divert flows down the eastern channel in the park.
To enable this, more than 1,000 fish were rescued and safely moved upstream of the project site.
The channel was narrowed to a more natural width with gently sloping banks forged to create areas of slow and fast flowing water.
Tree roots and branches were also anchored in place to provide hiding places for smaller fish.
It comes after the rare form of chalk stream fell into a state of disrepair last year and environmental officers were called out to another section following reports of distressed fish and sewage .
Chalk streams provide a natural and diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife species such as trout, voles and kingfishers.
The watery wonder of the world is unique with only around 200 left, and most of them found in the southern half of England with a few in France.
However, drought, population growth and abstraction are quite literally sucking them dry.
Project manager Dr Samantha Hughes said: “The River Darent is a chalk stream, a rare and unique habitat with only 210 found worldwide.
"The Darent chalk stream is unhealthy, suffering from a legacy of human modification and pollution.
"This project aims to reverse this legacy, to restore the River Darent to what a chalk stream should be for local people to enjoy and to encourage the return of more wildlife.”
Last year campaigners from the Darent River Preservation Society claimed the rare river, which provides clean drinking water to thousands of homes in Kent, could run dry by 2050 unless decisive action was taken .
Water is often taken from rivers to satisfy human demand for it, including by water and energy companies, but also for agricultural uses.
The Environment Agency says it is taking action to protect chalk streams by reducing the amount of water abstracted.
Meanwhile project leaders are lining up a return to the Dartford site to plant up the new banks.
It is hoped the project will reconnect park users with the river and provide further possibilities for nature conservation and educational opportunities.
There are also plans for volunteering on site such as river clean ups but these have been shelved in light of the current government guidelines on the coronavirus.
To stay up to date with the latest opportunities, the Trust encourages communities to join their mailing list here .