Cash boost for toxic river

Thames Water has drawn up a £500,000 plan to revitalise a river that was polluted when the company accidentally flooded a stretch of the water with chemicals.

Company bosses announced the five-year plan for the River Wandle, in south west London, this week following the reintroduction of 5,000 juvenile fish back into the river by the Environment Agency.

Tens of thousands of fish were wiped out along a 5km stretch of the river in September when a Thames Water sewage treatment plant accidentally released sodium hypochlorite used for cleaning into the river.

The money will be used to fund restocking, a full-time development officer for the river, compensation for local angling clubs, and a restoration fund for projects over the next five years.

Thames Water is working in conjunction with the Wandle Trust and the Anglers’ Conservation Association (ACA) to put the plan into action.

David Owens, chief executive officer of Thames Water, said: “We were quick to acknowledge that we caused this incident and we are acting quickly to not only restore, but improve the health of this important river.”

Mark Lloyd, executive director of the ACA, said: “This incident has been transformed from a disaster into a triumph for the river by Thames Water’s genuine desire to put right the damage they caused back in September.

“The settlement we have negotiated provides the basis for a long term future for the River Wandle.”

Theo Pike, trustee of the Wandle Trust, said: “With the security of significant funding, we’re looking forward to leading a genuine partnership of local stakeholders, helping a long stretch of the river literally come back from Year Zero.”

Thames Water has also committed to regularly reporting the performance of the Beddington Sewage Works, which was responsible for the pollution, and introducing cutting-edge water quality monitoring technology to hundreds of its facilities.

The Environment Agency is still carrying out an investigation into the incident and the water company could face prosecution.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie