Snapshot of East London’s rivers shows they are choked with our chemicals and sewage

A study of rivers running through the London Boroughs of Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest and Epping Forest has shown that the Lea and the rivers flowing into it are being damaged by pollution coming from everyone in the valley.

The snapshot water quality testing was commissioned by Thames21 and saw staff working alongside students from Queen Mary’s University London.

The tests were carried out at the end of November to get a picture of the problem in one go, across the worst affected parts of the Lea Valley. The River Lea and the streams that flow into it form London’s second largest river system, but are being devastated by pollution.

The Pymmes and Salmons Brook in LB Enfield don’t have enough oxygen in the water to support healthy fish life.

The Dagenham Brook in LB Waltham Forest is tainted by extremely high levels of phosphates, a sign that chemicals from people’s homes and sewage is entering the river. The Ching could be healthy but is spoiled by chemicals and high levels of raw sewage.

The Moselle Brook in LB Haringey has oxygen levels too low to support fish, while the river bed is covered with sewage fungus.

While the Cobbins Brook through DC Epping Forest flows mainly through countryside it is in trouble. Phosphate levels are too high and as it carries on down the valley the river’s health drops.

When the River Lea flows into Tower Hamlets and Newham, it is full of poisons from the whole valley, making it the most polluted river in Britain.

Theo Thomas from Thames21 said: “If someone walked into a wood with a chainsaw and cut down the trees, there would rightly be an outcry. But the equivalent is happening every day in the rivers of East London. The pollution we all dump down drains,that gets washed off our streets or overflows from sewage works is killing wildlife and making the rivers no go areas for people.”

“We carried out this testing to show that the problems with East London’s rivers are widespread. The root cause is not caring enough what happens to the water we use. What we put in it and where it then ends up. We’ve started up the ‘Love the Lea’ campaign to highlight what needs to be done. We need to find out where the pollution is coming from, but also change our own actions”.

For more information on our Love the Lea campaign, click here.

Thames21 commissioned environmental consultant Grieg Davies for a snapshot of the health of East London’s rivers.

A copy of the report “A water quality analysis of the River Lee and major tributaries within the perimeter of the M25, from Waltham Abbey to Bow Locks.” is available on request.

For all media enquiries contact Theo Thomas 07968 012 828

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