A Bournemouth University research team has been commissioned to work on an aquatic project to look at the health of London’s river, as part of work being done by Tideway, the company delivering the 25km ‘super sewer’ in London
BU Global Environment Solutions (BUG) will be working in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), to conduct an aquatic ecology study within the tidal reaches of the River Thames to provide baseline data against which future improvements in water quality and ecology can be assessed.
Over the next three years, the team will be investigating the utilisation of the Thames by young fish to help understand the current ecological functioning of this important river, and to track any changes associated with improvements in water quality.
Dr Andrew Harrison, Project Manager and Principal Fisheries Scientist at Bournemouth University, said: “Tideway is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK and we are delighted to be commencing this work, using our specialist expertise to help understand the ecology of the iconic River Thames. The new tunnel will really benefit wildlife in the river, and we hope to be able to demonstrate these benefits through this research project focussing on fish populations.”
Every year, tens of millions of tonnes of raw sewage enter the River Thames through Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), which release flows through discharge points at various locations along the tidal Thames. Historically, this would only occur once or twice a year; however, in recent times this has become a regular occurrence due to the increased demand on the Victorian sewage system.
Tideway’s solution is the construction of a 25km long and up to 65m deep ‘super sewer’, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, to intercept storm flows before they enter the river. These flows will be diverted through the tunnel to Abbey Mills Pumping Station near Stratford, where they will be transferred to Beckton Sewage Treatment Works via the Lee Tunnel, before being treated and discharged at the mouth of the estuary. This will help prevent the tidal River Thames from being polluted with untreated sewage which can stay in the river for up to three months before the ebb and flow of the tide finally takes it out to sea.
The monitoring programme begins in mid-March 2017 and will continue over the next three years until 2019. Citizen Scientists will also be involved in collecting data for this comprehensive research project which, in addition to providing data to track changes associated with improvements in water quality in the River Thames, will also help to inform management decisions for future large infrastructure projects within estuaries throughout the UK and worldwide.
For more information on Tideway, visit https://www.tideway.london