Tests Show 'Massive Problem' With Thames Water Quality

98% of samples contain bacteria associated with sewage discharge

Measurement of water quality in the Thames over the last year has shown that 98% of samples contain bacteria which is associated with sewage discharge.

The data was collected by Thames River Watch which was launched by river charity Thames21 in February last year, to encourage members of the public to help collect information about the River – by measuring water quality, quantity and types of litter, and the spread of invasive non-native species.

To celebrate its first anniversary, Thames 21 organised The Big Count - a series of foreshore activities across London followed by a conference at the Sea Life London Aquarium - to highlight the results collected in the first year of the project, which is sponsored by Thames Tideway Tunnel.

During the conference at the aquarium, volunteers and supporters of Thames River Watch heard that coliform bacteria, which enters the water when sewage is discharged, was found in a 98% of all samples collected in the first year.

Alice Hall, Thames River Watch Joint Co-ordinator, said,“The first year of the project has seen a tremendous effort from local volunteers who collected data on 308 days of the year. This represents a hugely important step towards better
understanding the health of the river and communicating the challenges it faces to the public.”

Phil Stride, Head of Thames Tideway Tunnel, said, “Sadly, the fact that 98% of all samples contained coliform bacteria does not come as a surprise. It is a horrible statistic, but with 39 million tonnes of sewage pouring into the river in a typical year we
already know there is a massive problem.

“Yet it often surprises me how many people are unaware of the scale of sewage pollution in the river and the effects it has. That is why it is so important to continue raising awareness of the threats facing the river.”

January 15, 2021