Best prac­tice: the Thames

Element - - BUSINESS -

In 1957 the River Thames in Lon­don was so pol­luted that it was de­clared bi­o­log­i­cally dead, with lit­tle or no life able to sur­vive in its nox­ious whirls. A sur­vey a year later at Tower Bridge found no fish in the river. It is now said to be the clean­est it has been for 150 years and is one of the clean­est rivers to pass through a city in the world. Mil­lions has been spent on up­grad­ing and ex­pand­ing water treat­ment works to deal with the city’s waste and strict leg­is­la­tion now pro­hibits the dump­ing of pol­luted ef­flu­ent into the river. At the same time more than 400 wildlife habi­tats have been de­lib­er­ately cre­ated and work has be­gun on ‘re-nat­u­ral­is­ing’ trib­u­taries and streams that had been en­cased in tun­nels or cul­verts to pre­vent flood­ing in the 1960s and 70s. The Euro­pean Water Frame­work Di­rec­tive now stip­u­lates that by 2015 all of Bri­tain’s rivers must meet its cri­te­ria for good eco­log­i­cal qual­ity. At present only a quar­ter of the rivers in the coun­try meet the tar­get, which means the work con­tin­ues. For ex­am­ple, Lon­don has a US$3.6 bil­lion ‘su­per sewer’ in the pipe­line that would pre­vent un­treated sewage from pe­ri­od­i­cally spilling into the Thames dur­ing rain­storms.

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