Thames21 and HSBC ready to fix broken rivers

East London’s broken rivers1 are one step closer to being fixed with the announcement of a 4-year Thames21 project to tackle urban pollution in the Lower Lea Valley. The project is being made possible through the support of the HSBC Water Programme2.

‘Fixing Broken Rivers’ follows recent dramatic evidence of the pressure these rivers are under which caused the death of thousands of fish this summer after heavy rain washed vast amounts of road pollutants into the River Lea.

The £490,000 project will include a school-based education programme, reaching 32,400 children; the creation of new and regeneration of existing reed beds and the creation of mini Sustainable Drainage Systems. The schools will also be working closely with up to 4,000 HSBC staff and community volunteers to create and monitor the reed beds and drainage systems.

The ‘Fixing Broken Rivers’ Project Manager, Ben Fenton of Thames21 said: “We know how badly polluted these rivers are and how much local people want to see this pollution addressed.  This exciting project is a key step towards stopping the on-going degradation of East London’s rivers and allowing them to be vital green spaces, which support a vast array of wildlife and offer joy and respite to the communities they run through. I am very pleased to be working with HSBC on this important project and I am grateful for their invaluable support enabling us to undertake this crucial work”.

Supporting the project, HSBC’s David Burnett, Chief Operating Officer of Global Banking and Markets said “We have a long history of helping the communities in which we serve. This four year programme will help to address the serious issue of freshwater pollution and support the people who live and work in the area. The programme uses local knowledge and volunteers to construct and plant new reedbeds, which will clean the water and offer an essential habitat. Further, as the programme will engage with more than 30.000 young people through outreach and education activities, it is our hope that future generations will be looking well after the rivers of the Lower Lea”.

The project is the progression of Thames21 pioneering ’Love the Lea’ campaign4, which has fought for action on East London’s neglected rivers and championed sustainable solutions to the problems they face. The campaign will work actively with the community, connecting local people with their rivers and engaging them in practical volunteering opportunities to make measurable changes to river health and raise awareness about water pollution causes and how to prevent them.

People interested in taking part in Fixing Broken Rivers should follow Thames21’s updates on


For all media enquiries contact Martin Holm:, 07827 352 675.

For more information about the Fixing Broken Rivers Project and associated activities, contact Ben Fenton:

1. The majority of East London’s rivers fail the Water Framework Directive – containing high levels of phosphates and other pollutants, due to old sewage treatment works, household misconnections and road run-off, threatening the biological balance.

2. The HSBC Water Programme, part of the Bank’s global community investment programme, is a five year US$100m partnership with the world’s most respected environmental and sustainable development organisations. The programme provides the necessary scale to deliver the powerful combination of water provision, protection and education; benefitting communities in need, enabling people to prosper, and driving development and economic growth.

3. HSBC Global Community Investment Programme: HSBC has responsibilities not only towards our customers, employees and shareholders but also to the countries and communities in which we operate. In 2012, we donated USD120million through our global community investment programme which focuses primarily on education and the environment. 50 percent of our overall donation is spent on education, 25 percent on environment and 25 percent on other community activities. Find out more at:

4. Thames21’s Love the Lea campaign highlights the sources of pollution; misconnected pipes from people’s homes, run off from roads, overflows from sewage works, pollution from commercial properties and chemicals poured down street drains,

5. Thames21 in an environmental charity (registered number 1103997) which works with thousands of volunteers each year to improve London’s rivers, canals and ponds.