MEMBERS of a conservation group fear for the future of a river and say it’s the first time it has dried up in at least 20 years.

Despite the county experiencing one of the driest summers on record, members of Bicester’s Green Gym raised their concerns about the river in Bure Park, Bicester with the Environment Agency.

The group, which carries out conservation work at the park, believed a factor other than the weather may have been to blame for the low level of the Bure river.

But the agency’s investigation was unable to identify any other issues that may have contributed to the River Bure’s current condition.

The drought has been blamed on springs which feed the river drying up, and comes during Oxford’s driest June and July in 195 years.

Normally there is about a foot of water in most of it.

Now stretches have dried up completely, creating patchy pools and stranded wildlife.

Member of Bicester Green Gym, which carries out conservation work at Bure Park, Bea Foster, 54, said: “I have lived in Bicester for 20 years and never seen it this low.

“Even when we had the hosepipe ban last year it wasn’t this bad.”

Another member, Steve Willott, 70, from Lily Close said: “I have lived here for nine years and it is the first time I have seen it dry.

“I found one pool with tadpoles in so I have been coming every morning with water to keep them alive, but I can’t bring 100 gallons of water down every morning.

“I have yet to speak to anyone who remembers the Bure river having dried up before.”

The Green Gym has been trying to save the river.

On Tuesday and last week, members were pulling rubbish from the river, including a car tyre and an oil drum, to give it a helping hand.

The Bure is fed by several small tributaries to the north which have their sources near Bainton and other villages.

After running through Bure Park and Bicester town centre the Bure feeds into the Ray, which feeds in turn into a collection of ponds at Oddington.

Bure Park is maintained by Bicester Town Council.

Council environmental committee chairman Lynn Pratt said low rainfall was the cause.

She added: “There are no blockages, and other stretches of water in Bicester are in the same condition.

“There is not a lot we can do.”

Members of the Bicester Green Gym asked the Environment Agency to investigate the river’s flow.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We have been investigating the Bure over the last few weeks.

“We endeavour to investigate all incidences of this nature to ensure that water is not being extracted or impounded illegally.

“Our investigating officer has walked the length of the river in this area and found that one of the springs feeding the river was completely dry.

“It is our conclusion the Bure is experiencing a seasonal variance within what would be expected for this time of year.”

In June and July, less two millimetres of rain fell in Oxford, compared to last July’s total of 101.3mm.