The River Thames is changing its reputation from that ‘dirty old river’
Far too often when I write about environmental issues where it seems we are highlighting new causes for concern and the negative impact that we are having on our planet. Whilst I feel obliged to share the stories that spotlight new reports and concerns it’s not often enough that I find some truly good news that I feel like shouting about. Today however is an exception to the rule and goes to show what new standards can accomplish in reviving the habitat for some of our fellow species and our overall environment, even in the heart of a huge city.
I grew up in rural England and was lucky enough to be surrounded by fields and streams that were essentially the picture postcard of the English countryside. My grandparents lived in London and every summer I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks with them to explore the city and all that it had to offer including a very large and dirty river, I guess I caught a bug to return to the town and it’s exactly where I headed when old enough to do so. Through the centre of London flows the River Thames, the ancient base for the city which helped it grow so rapidly through the centuries. Growing up the older generation would tell you about how the big brown river was dead and toxic and how any romance of the visible aspects of the river were lost in the fact that it was so heavily polluted. It really was the colour of mud and unless you were many miles up the river towards Oxford the likelihood of finding much wildlife in or on the water wasn’t terribly high. A new report however by the environment agency in the UK shows that the old river has is changing rapidly and for the good in recent times.
Previously declared biologically dead the water is now once again incredibly supportive tool wide variety of fish, birds and other wildlife. The agency revealed that river water quality in England shows improved results for the 20th consecutive year as a result of tougher EU (European Union) regulations. In fact throughout the country more than two thirds of all rivers were graded as good or very good under the existing guidelines something that was unimaginable in the 1970s. A full report assessing water quality and wildlife statistics will be published toward the end of 2010, the improvements have been the result of stringent regulations and improvements by water companies, far tougher consequences for polluters and significant changes to industry waste and farming practices in the country.
Much of the lower portion of the river is tidal and record numbers of sea trout have recently been found many miles upstream in waters that previously would have killed them. Paul Leinster from the environment agency added that “Rivers are their cleanest for over a century and the environment agency is working hard to ensure this trend continues”
I wish my grandparents were alive to see the gradual transformation of the “dirty old river” into a cleaner and healthier thoroughfare through the heart of the city but needless to say I’m thrilled to read this report and share it with you.