The River Beane in Hertfordshire is one of a number of tributaries of the Upper Lea. Its historic source is to the north east of Stevenage, near the villages of Sandon and Cromer. It flows south for around 18km, through the villages of Watton-at-Stone, Stapleford and Waterford, before joining the River Lea in Hertford.
However, over-abstraction means that the main source of the Beane is now the Stevenage Brook. Above this tributary, the river is often completely dry. Downstream of the Stevenage Brook there is regular flow, although here the river faces the problems of invasive species and physical modifications including many weirs.
The Beane Valley is very rural, and consists mainly of farmland and privately owned estates. The Hertfordshire Way runs alongside the Beane for much of its length, and there is good public access along most of the river.
The main urban areas near to the Beane are the towns of Stevenage (to the west of the river), Watton-at-Stone and Hertford. Despite the predominantly rural nature of the river itself, a large population exists in the surrounding area. Water is abstracted at Whitehall pumping station near Aston in the upper Beane, to supply Stevenage and the surrounding villages. This has adversely affected the river for over 20 years.
Historically, the Beane was a famous trout fishing river, and also supported a number of commercial watercress beds and water mills. Local residents can remember a time when it was possible to swim and canoe in the river, and many recollect regularly seeing animals such as water voles and otters. These species are now absent from the river, and birds like kingfishers are now rare visitors.