The ‘recycling’ scheme aims to replace Thames water with treated wastewater Water

Thames Water has proposed withdrawing tens of millions of liters of water per day from the River Thames and replacing it with treated water from the large sewage works at Mogden in the west. London To help address water shortages.

The company, which leaks 630 million liters a day from its system, is introducing what it calls a “water recycling” scheme to address shortages caused by a rising population and projected droughts caused by climate change over the coming decades.

The plan was first proposed in 2019, but was rejected by the Environment Agency due to the expected unacceptable impact on the environment from releasing millions of liters of treated effluent into the river. The effect may be to raise the temperature and salinity of the water and have a negative impact on its habitat, particularly affecting migratory and native fish.

However, the water company presented Mojden’s proposals as the cheapest and fastest option in the draft of its new water resources management plan to address the expected serious water shortage in the coming years. It wants to extract up to 150 million liters of water per day from the River Thames over Hooks Tiddington in southwest London, and pipe it to tanks in the Lee Valley in east London.

Runners beside the River Thames at Teddington Lock.
Runners beside the River Thames at Teddington Lock. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

The extracted river water will be replaced with treated effluent from Mogden, one of the UK’s largest sewage plants. But technical documents in the Thames Water Resource Management Plan show there are still environmental concerns with the water reuse proposal.

related documents He says the proposals will lead to increased water temperatures and a change in the salinity of the river. There could be impacts on freshwater and estuarine fish, their migration patterns and the life cycle of macroinvertebrates – insects in their nymphal and larval stages, which are a key indicator of river health.

The proposals could also harm other key parts of a river’s ecosystem and could violate regulations for a river’s chemical status, which measures pollution levels in a watercourse. The draft plan is being put forward for consultation through public meetings. that start on Monday.

English rivers are already suffering the impact of chemical and biological pollution from treated effluents released by water companies, and runoff from agriculture and roads. No English river is considered as such In good biological or chemical condition.

Thames Water said in its proposals that the idea is the most cost effective and fastest to achieve to build resilience into the future for the benefit of customers, their children and grandchildren and the environment.

“We need to improve the resilience of our water supply by the early 2030s,” the company said. “This scheme will help keep the Thames flowing and can be delivered within eight years, helping us achieve resilience to a single drought event in 200 years by 2031.

The drawing

“There are other schemes that we could introduce in eight years…but they are all more expensive.”

The company said that £13 billion will be invested between 2025 and 2050 in protecting water resources. Customers will pay for this with their bills, which are likely to rise by about £100 by 2050. It predicts that an extra billion liters of water will be needed every day by 2075 to accommodate global warming and population growth.

“The largest part of the investment is ensuring that we can deal with our changing climate and continue to provide a safe water supply, as well as protect and improve the environment in the long term,” the Times said.

The wastewater reuse plan will include the construction of a new stripping site on the River Thames between Teddington Wear and Hampton Court Palace to extract up to 150 million liters of water per day, transport it across London to Lee Valley reservoirs in the east of the city, and replace it. The flow of highly treated water from Mojdin through a new 15-kilometre (10-mile) pipeline.

The water will be supplied not only to customers of the Thames but to other water companies in the Southeast, Including convergence water.

Thames Water says the reuse proposal would require regular maintenance of the treatment plant. Mogden, the UK’s third largest sewage treatment plant, has been criticized in the past for leaking raw sewage into the River Thames. A report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee stated that two billion liters of untreated sewage were discharged into the River Thames in two days in October 2020; The equivalent of 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools of diluted raw sewage.

Thames Water has other plans to tackle future water shortages, including by reducing its own leakage, which is estimated at 630 million liters per day, encouraging the public to reduce their water use, installing more smart meters and building a giant new reservoir south of Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

“It shows just how desperate these companies have become that they are considering this kind of insanity and the Environment Agency needs to put a stop to this immediately,” said Feargal Sharkey, former Undertones lead singer and water quality activist.

Thames Water said: “The Environment Agency has been involved in the development of proposals included in the WRMP [water resources management plan] to go on a date. A full Environmental Impact Assessment is being undertaken and will be provided along with the planning application required to enable the scheme to be built.”

The company added that the southeast faced a huge shortage of water, and that the extreme heat and lack of water last summer was a clear indication of a direct climate emergency.

“The scale of water resources that we need for the future means that we need to take a strategic approach to planning water supplies for the future,” the company said. “We have worked closely with other water companies to look at options that could save a significant amount of water – more than 50 million liters of water per day – for use by more than one water company.”

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