Khan dives into action to make London’s rivers swimmable by 2034

The Mayor of London reaffirmed plans today to make London’s rivers safe enough to swim in within the next decade.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was re-elected for a record third term last month, pledged to ensure the clean-up of London’s waterways, regarding the crisis levels of sewage building up in the River Thames.

The success of Khan’s air quality and climate programmes, such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), were a result of collaboration between diverse groups of companies, government agencies and campaigners.

Following on from these efforts, Khan called on stakeholders Thames Water and its regulators, while clarifying that other rivers, canals and water bodies would also be involved.

Photo by Pollard Lucien on Unsplash

Khan said: “Thames Water and the government need to take action now and start cleaning up their mess.

“London’s rivers are the arteries of our city and should be a source of pride to us all, but the levels of sewage that water companies are pouring into our rivers is a scandal.    

“I will not stand by and allow this to continue.”

According to City Hall, sewage flowed into London’s rivers in 2023/2024 over the course of 504 days, almost quadruple the amount for the same period the previous year.

Visiting the West Reservoir and Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney today, Khan pledged a further £30 million towards rewilding efforts that include funding for trees and wildflower meadows, as well as support for the preservation of waterways, parks, and other new green spaces.  

David Mooney, CEO of London Wildlife Trust, said: “Access to nature and clean water is a right not a privilege.

“We are proud to stand with the Mayor of London in our collective efforts to bring nature back into our lives to help make our city resilient, nature-rich and thriving.”

West Reservoir is now a haven for aquatic and bird life, as well as recreational swimming, due to Khan’s funding of £700,000 last year.

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

Khan has also funded and opened successful swimming locations filled by the Thames at Royal Docks, and by a borehole at Beckenham Place Park.

With water quality affected by sources upstream and tributary rivers, The Thames Tideway Tunnel, London’s ‘super sewer’ due to be complete by summer 2025, will also be instrumental in reducing effluent into the Thames.

Tayshan Hayden-Smith, Founder of Grow to Know, said: “To harness the potential of both people and planet, we have to start thinking of ways in which we can enable the falling in love of the communities we exist in.

“Nature offers solutions and remedies for societal challenges as well that of the environment.” 

Featured Image: SAJAD FI on Unsplash

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