Retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk
“Imagine the scene: tens of thousands of tonnes of sewage have backed up behind a jammed gate and a decision has to be made – to flood one of the world’s busiest airports or inundate a small river very few people know exist.
It is a stark version of the choices made daily around the planet between costly economic infrastructure and the natural world: inevitably, the River Crane, and its populations of perch, eels, kingfishers and dragonfly larvae, lost.
The Environment Agency, the UK’s official enforcement body, now reports almost the entire west London river has been “killed” by the huge influx of grey sludge washed down the toilets and drains of nearby Heathrow airport, starting last Saturday night. Experts, who estimate 3,000 fish are floating dead in and along the oxygen-starved Thames tributary, say it will take “months, probably years” to recover. Anglers and other people are being warned to stay out of the water in the seven mile stretch from the A4 to the River Thames at Twickenham, though the risk to the Thames itself is thought to be low.
Thames Water issued an apology in which the company said engineers battled for hours to free the jammed sluice gate and commandeered 20 trucks to haul sewage away by road before being:”
Read more: Guardian
A clean-up operation of the Thames at Brentford, south-west London. Retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk
“But we must take the EA’s words with a heavy pinch of salt. The Wandle, which it says has “become a vibrant rich habitat due to better environmental regulation”, was massively polluted only a few years ago when Thames Water spilled thousands of gallons of industrial-strength chlorine into it; and only three months ago 450,000 tonnes of raw sewage escaped into the Thames, killing fish and leaving pollution.
However, the greater spin is to suggest that these and other English rivers are in good nick. The 10 rivers chosen here have been carefully selected and do not reflect the true status of our rivers, most of which are suffering because of abstraction, sewage, blockages to fish passes and other pollution.
What the government has done is to measure these rivers via what is called the General Quality Assessment (GQA). This assesses the water quality by the levels of oxygen demand (BOD), ammonia and dissolved oxygen found in the water. By this measure, rivers are indeed improving across the board and it is correct to say there has been a steady improvement in quality for 20 years, with 70% of rivers reaching “good” or “fair” standard.”
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Retrieved from: Guardian
“The plan to build a £3.6bn “super sewer” to collect the millions of tonnes of raw sewage that over flows into the river Thames after heavy rain must be rethought to save money, the leaders of 14 city councils will tell environment minister Richard Benyon on Monday.
“In an unprecedented move, the councils have set up a commission of “independent” experts to examine Thames Water’s case for the 20 mile long tunnel which could cost more than Wembley and the Olympic stadium and park together.
“Benyon will be told that the scheme will cost all 14 million Thames Water customers – one in four of all ratepayers in England – an extra £10 a month “for life” and, in the councils’ opinion, will not fix the problem of drains overflowing sewage into the river. The leaders argue that there are greener and cheaper alternatives.
“At a time when our public services are under intense pressure, Londoners cannot afford to effectively write a blank cheque for this scheme without proper scrutiny, accountability and debate. Doing nothing is not an option, but we need to consider the possibility that there are better alternatives. On a recent trip to Chicago I heard how very few world cities are approaching it in this way – many realise that a tunnel-only option is not the best solution,” said Hammersmith and Fulham Tory council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who has led the pressure for a rethink and whose council will fund the commission.
“The councils, who downplay the pollution caused saying it is only 5% of the flow into the river and only happens four times year, have appointed prominent Tory peer Lord Selborne, a former member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and Lloyds bank director, to chair the commission which is expected to report back within months.”
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Photo retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk
“Polluted water from the river Thames is being cleaned and put into London‘s water supply in Britain’s first large-scale attempt to artificially increase supplies using desalination.
The £270m Thames Gateway water treatment works in Beckton, east London, was commissioned last year but has only been fully tested in the last few weeks.
The 875m litres produced so far is said to be so clean it has to be treated with salts and other chemicals to make it taste roughly the same as tap water.
“We’ve been running the desalination plant intermittently at one-sixth output – not because we’ve needed to but rather as part of the testing of the works and the training of its personnel. It’s there if we need it,” said Simon Evans of Thames Water.
The technology, which is mostly used in water-stressed areas of the Middle East, was brought to London after Thames Water argued in a 2006 public inquiry that new sources were needed, with climate change threatening hotter, drier summers and an additional 700,000 people predicted to move to the capital by 2021.”
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More than 200 fish died during the pollution incident at the Basingstoke Canal in Woking. Photo retrieved from: www.bbc.co.uk
“A water company has been fined £12,000 after admitting allowing untreated sewage to enter a Surrey canal.
The Environment Agency investigated after more than 300 fish were found dead at the Basingstoke Canal in Woking in September 2009.
Thames Water admitted at Woking Magistrates’ Court. to allowing pollution to enter the canal.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the company said it admitted responsibility for a “deeply upsetting incident.”
She said: “Any pollution incident is one too many and although these are few and far between, we continue to work to eliminate them all together.”
‘Gasping for life’
Following the incident, the company spent £40,000 to restore the quality of the water and investigate the cause, she added.
Readings taken by the Environment Agency at the time found high levels of oxygen and ammonium. The number of dead fish included roach, bream, perch and gudgeon.”
Read more: BBC