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Research Report on River Thames of London

University: Lancaster University

  • Unit No: N/A
  • Level: Undergraduate/College
  • Pages: 12 / Words 2930
  • Paper Type: Assignment
  • Course Code: MBA503
  • Downloads: 375
Organization Selected : Marks and Spencer


Water being a natural resource found in abundance on earth but for human consumption, only 3% of water is consumable. 97% of water which is found either in sea or ocean and hence not suitable for human consumption. The consumable water available to human kind form rivers, water streams etc. One such water resource in London is river Thames, from which almost whole of the London get water for daily use and consumption. The present assignment is a field work report on river Thames of London specifically for area from Windsor to Woolwhich. This includes water challenges faced and addressed by water resource. It is done with the help of effective plannings, engineering solutions and regulations related with environment. Along with this sustainability of the water resources is discussed in context of climate change and social conditions.

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Thames being the largest river flowing through Southern England which is also one of the major water resource for the whole London. The geographical extension of this river can be explained as, river is 346 km in length and its basin is about 12935 km (Bussi and et.al., 2016). It passes through England and from counties namely Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, London Kent and Eeesex. The head or starting point of Thames is situated at Gloucestershire.

1. Challenges faced by river Thames and engineering solutions to resolve those issues

The fact is not hidden that, sixty years back survival of Thames river was not possible but today same is considered as most valuable water resource for England. This was considered that nothing can save Thames but at present it is a home for seals, porpoises and even for whales.

In past the river Thames had faced many challenges with each challenge a new solution came up with using new technology. This can be defined as:-

Waste water crisis in 19th century:

Back in the times of 1800 river Thames used to support fishing industry as it was clean at that time, within few years the condition of rivers got worse due to sewer discharge on foreshore of river. This made Thames increasingly dirty and toxic (Bussi and et.al., 2016). By the end of 1850 the condition of water was so worsened that it began to stink, this increased the rate of death and continues ill heath and diseases. This led to start of first Cholera epidemic in the nation.

To over come this problem a survey of sewer lines in London was undertaken to clearly identify the system and to determined the ways to improvise sewer system and quality of river Thames. In 1853 Joseph William Bazalgette appointed as Chief Engineer to make plans for sewer system. The plans were developed based on combined system for foul sewage and surface runoff (Combined Sewer Overflows). With this new developed sewer system condition of Thames started to get better and by 1950 status were more stabilized in context of dirt, and sewage wastage dumping in river. Yet another challenge were faced in mean time.

Flood in 1953:

A massive floods out burst in 1953 taking lives of 300 people and forced evacuation of 32000 people. At them times Thames was pecuniary and vulnerable to floods. The region rainy weather caused rapid changes in river levels, corroborated by the fact that much of Southeast. Similar to this a disastrous flood was experienced by London in 1928 which was which killed 14 people and many were left evacuated from their homes. This floods took place in month of January and reason behind this flood was heavy snowfall in December. With this it can be stated that England is actually sinking due to geological factors.

The major strategic prevention action taken in this regard was establishment of Thames barriers in 1982.s it took almost 30 years to come up and implementation of the plan to stop floods and its aftereffect on London (Clark, and et.al., 2016. This is the largest river barrier in worlds which covers 10 miles ares and cost more than 500 million pounds. This is designed in a such a way by the engineers that counters surges in river level. The barrier allows high and low tides to pass through under normal condition. This is deigned to last long up to 2070.

Risk to Thames barrier:

This is another challenges faced by the London as the standard protection is slowly decreasing with time and due to rise in sea level and a grater magnitude and frequency of surge conditions. But actions are taken by the UK government as project under the name of “The Thames Estuary 2100 plan” is undertaken to address the problem. This plan set how risk of flood will be managed in the Thames estuary to the end of the century and beyond.

Rising level of sea :

Another challenge being faced in present times by the environmentalist is rising level of the sea. On an average increment of 3 millimeter each year is determined by the UK environmentalists. (River Thames Clean Up - Past, Present & Future, 2018). This increase is much higher than which was estimated in 1980 when the Thames barrier was build. An estimates rise of 75 millimeters is anticipated in Thames in Central London in next century. For this action are sets out as reduction of effect of global warming of the river Thames and its increasing water level.

Water supply and increasing population:

The regulation of water of Thames is carried out by water industry act 1991 and it is owned by Kemble water holding Ltd. The average usage of water per Person in London is 150 liter and 76% of the water supply around London is from Thames river. This can be stated that Thames is the largest contributors among all other contributors of water which is supplied to public for their daily consumption. UK is experiencing an increase in population day by day and this create a pressure on the authorities' to increase the water supply (Evans and et.al., 2017). The higher pressure is faced by Thames river as it is the largest contributor to supplying water for human consumption.

The measure taken in this regard are: implementation family planning legislation and making public aware about the controlling population growth and reducing child birth rate. They must also be made aware of the fact with on protection their will be scarcity or non availability of the water for future generation.

Pollution and public health

This is another issue which have been faced by the river Thames from the 19th century's with increase in dumping of sewer wastage in the river the contamination level of the water increased to a high level. This lead to the fact that water started to stink and people consuming the waster suffered from diseases. One such scenario was the cholera epidemic. With mid 20th century the condition of rivers was improved yet after sometimes the problem started to emerge again. This time along with sewer dumping, the wastage from industries was also dumped in the river, this increased the contamination level. People who remained in connect with water for a long time effected by sever disease. These people are the sport person who take active participation in swimming another water sports activities.

For reduction of toxic level in the water that is supplied to public for consumption water purifier plants have been installed in London so that public do not intake any harmful substance which can effect their health directly or indirectly.

Water supply from River Thames:

The household water supply is the second largest region of consuming water, which is being supplied from Thames. On an average a person in London consume at least 150 liters of water in a day, which is not a small amount. Imaging the situation the whole population consuming this much water with being water as a scare natural resources (Lu and et.al, 2015). The usage are increasing day by day and with exploding population, the usage will get multiplied.

To make sure that water is used in limit awareness among people is being generated to protect the water and river Thames by reducing per day water consumption and implementing the measures to control birth rate so the population do not increase with a faster pace.

Water consumption by industries in London:

The fact is determined that industries are the second largest users of Thames rivers is for public supply. The industrial use of the water is various that includes still mills, breweries, paper makers and many other industrial processes use of water in their trade. The industrial use of the water is also at high level and this lead to fact of water wastage.

To over come this problem of large quantity usage of water in industry legislation have been made and implied on the organisation usage natural sources to reduced the wastage by treating the used water and applying waste management techniques in the business to reduce usage of water and its wastage.

Implementation of Environmental legislation:

Much legislation have been formed to protect the environment, natural habitat and wildlife. All of these are directly or indirectly related with improvement and protection of condition of river Thames again going to worse, as it took almost two centuries to improve the quality of water and condition of river Thames.

The legislation were made at national and international level environmental regulators. The European Union ‘directives ranged from Birds (1979), Habitats (1992) and Groundwater (2006) to the Water Framework Directive (2000), have been powerful in a transformation of narrowed concerns of river pollution towards an ‘ecosystem approach’ to the river, foreshore and riverside marshes. Since the return of pan-London governance in 2000,authorities in London has claimed the capital's rivers and waterways as integral to its role as an ‘exemplary, sustainable world city’.

Along with implication of this legislation the regulation have also been formed for operating in the UK. The operation of the ports in London have been stopped and it has sifted to another ports as this risk the hygiene and creates a chaos near the river, so the port authority have banned all Ports in London.

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The River Thames clean up:

The quality of river Thames has improved immensely over past two centuries.

The main diver of this improvement are:-

  • Public health: the cholera epidemic, the grate stink.
  • European union: environment legislation.
  • Public pressure and health risk.

2. The future of River Thames with change in climatic and social conditions along with consideration of sustainable approaches:

With change in climatic condition mostly due to global warming the sea level are rising due to melting of polar ice with a rapid pace as compared to what was anticipated back in time by environmentalist and ecologist. And river Thames is also not untouched with this factor. The Climatic changes faced by London can be listed as:

  • The temperature is rising in UK with tipping to 30c.
  • A steady decline in rainfall in London.
  • Increasing problem of waste water and sewer dumping in the river (THAMES FACES FLOODS AND DROUGHTS, 2018). The discharges into the river of untreated sewage is another blow to the public perception that the Thames is cleaner than it has been for centuries.

Reports claim that changes in weather patterns will lead to a decline in the number of plants, fish and other animals. With climatic changes the rules can be faced as hotter and drier summers and warmer and wetter winters.

Pollution in river Thames:

Reports have been made on whether pollution in River Thames have bad effect on public health. One of the major factor is increasing in level of population which will increased dumping of untreated sewer wastage in river that can have drastic impact on the health of public using the water and water body as well. This will also put pressure on the water supplies on the river.

Anticipated future issue by London environmentalist and ecologist:

The risk of tidal flooding will increase in London due to rise in sea level. With this implementation more significant and cost measures are required to protect flooding of London from river Thames. The chance of rivers flooding in the Thames basin may be five times higher by the 2080s.

Changes in the climate will mean the lawns and flower beds of the typical English garden and the lush green landscape along parts of the Thames will be become more dull and dusty (Markus and et.al., 2015). The marine and aquatic animals lives will also get effected in the future, with increasing temperature and climatic changes. The river will not remain a feasible natural habitat from the marine animals. This can lead to fact that certain species can get extincts as stated by ecologists.

All the factors take in individually do not have major impact on the river and its ecological system but taken together this can destroy an international river system.

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Impact on Social condition:

The impact of social condition can be explained as increase in demand for the water supply, impact on human and social heath, condition of living and role of society in protection of river and pollution. With an increase in population the direct impact will be on the increased demand for water supply and the eater resource is getting prone to climatic condition with passing time. Though effective measures are taken to protect the river Thames but inverse impact of global warming is not hidden from anyone and the environmentalist are also aware of the same fact. With change in the weather condition the water level is rising and in a century it will increase to a higher level which makes the river more prone to tidal floods in the future.

Another social condition which effects the Thames river is the awareness among society about protection of the natural resources and having a knowledge of the factor that hoe scare these resources are and water is one of them. With an awareness in the community society as a whole tries to avoid wastage of water and use water in the essential amount only.

Sustainable approach:

Sustainable approaches can be defied as measures taken at individual and organizational level to protect the river Thames. The business organizations are taking steps as reducing the water consumption and implementation of plants to for treatment of the wastage so that no toxic materials are dumped in the river for the vicinity which can have adverse effect on health of public and worsen the condition of river foreshores.

Initiative taken at personal level by local is increasing the awareness among the society about the protection of the river usage of the water. It is essential to stop wastage of the water (Watts and et.al., 2015). The water supply gets effected with this measure of sustainable developments as this reduces the demand of water with time and increasing population.

This can stated that River Thames is going to face tough times with change in physical and social conditions. The main components of these factors are changing climatic condition, increasing temperature and increment in population. All these factors can have immense impact of the river. The operating authorities are taking measure in the sustainable direction to defend the exaggerated chances of tidal floods and reducing wastage and pollution of water.

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From the above report it can be clearly seen that Thames river serves the London society at a large. From past few years due to climatic changes the conditions are getting worse. It is recommended that significant plans must be implement to control population as with this waster supply will not face a pressure along with reduction in water wastage and dumping of sewer wastage in river.


From the above field work report on Thames river it can be concluded that the River have been through a period of worse and then to goods and now again facing challenges with climatic changes. In 1900 century the condition was worse which initiated epidermic and sever health issue and those were eliminated by taking significant changes in sewer system within London. Further it can be articulated that with change in time the challenges faced have also changed in past period they were related with condition of river but at present times that is from lase 15-25 years the challenges have shifted to rise in the water level and effects of climate condition of tides and surges. It can be articulated that for river Thames a critical strategic planing has been determined as essential with which London can be saved from drastic effect of climatic changes on river.

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