London’s Rivers

Citizen science volunteers

London's rivers are a vital habitat for wildlife and a great resource for humans yet pollution threatens the quality of this important resource. Help us healthcheck our rivers as part of the London River project.

Volunteer to healthcheck London's rivers

Why we are improving London’s rivers

The rivers and streams of London are recognised as a priority habitat yet they are currently classified as being in ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ condition. These rivers are not achieving their potential either as a wildlife habitat or as a natural resource for Londoners, and, as such, are in immediate need of our help.

ZSL is engaged in a range of projects harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of local communities to improve the quality of rivers in the capital, helping to create a better environment both for wildlife and for local people. Working together with a number of local grassroots organisations, in close collaboration with the Environment Agency, join our conservationists who are leading on initiatives to monitor water quality, identify sources of pollution and to raise awareness of issues which can impact on river health.  

 

I’m a local resident and I noticed there was some pollution in the river and I’m quite interested to find out about the water quality and also the ecology and how we can improve the water quality of the river" - Karolina Allu, Citizen Science Volunteer

 

Volunteering as part of the River Monitoring Initiative

The River Monitoring Initiative (RMI) is a methodology developed nationally by the Riverfly Partnership as a means of monitoring water quality and ZSL operate as the Greater London hub. The technique is based on sampling to establish the presence and abundance of particular groups of easy to identify invertebrates. The system is a version of a technique used by the Environment Agency, which has been simplified to encourage involvement by citizen science volunteers, enabling individuals to take responsibility and ownership of their local rivers and to increase the frequency and coverage of monitoring activity.  By monitoring a range of sites on a monthly basis the chances of detecting pollution events are increased and action can be taken early to identify any source of pollution and to resolve the cause.

As the London RMI hub, ZSL supports the development of RMIs on new rivers in London and along with our partners support the 6 RMI schemes already up and running.  These are on the Rivers Crane, Wandle, Hogsmill, Pinn, Ravensbourne and Cray.

We have published the year two report on the Hogsmill River’s Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (January 2017).

 

Tackling Polluted outfalls in London with citizen scientists

Much of Greater London is serviced by two separate drainage systems.  One that collects rainwater and flows directly into our rivers and the other takes foul waste water from buildings to sewage treatment works to be cleaned before released into a river.

Misconnections between the two drainage systems, often caused by inexpert plumbing, results in pollution pouring into our rivers via drains known as outfalls

Using the Outfall Safari citizen science methodology developed by ZSL, as part of the Citizen Crane project team, ZSL has led on the most comprehensive survey of London’s rivers undertaken in recent years. Findings indicate the true scale of the problem of sewage and other pollutants being sent into rivers by homes and business across London due to misconnected plumbing. View the full report:
Misconnections 

Much of the London region is serviced by two separate drainage systems.  The first of these collects rainwater runoff, from roads and elsewhere, and flows directly into our rivers. The second collects foul water from building soil pipes and passes through a water treatment works to be cleaned and filtered before it is released into the river system.

Misconnections between the two drainage systems, often caused by inexpert plumbing, results in pollution pouring into our rivers.

ZSL has led on the most comprehensive survey of London’s rivers undertaken in recent years. Findings indicate the true scale of the problem of raw sewage and other pollutants being inadvertently dumped into rivers by homes and business across London due to misconnected plumbing. View the full report: PDF icon Tackling Pollution in London’s Rivers (4.92 MB)  

Please make sure your own home is not polluting your local river. Find out more at http://www.connectright.org.uk/

ZSL are active members of the Regional Misconnections Group and work in partnership with organisations across the region to help tackle this damaging problem for London’s rivers.

Project information

News

People involved

ZSL’s Joe Pecorelli manages the London’s Rivers projects.

Partners

  • Arocha
  • Environment Agency
  • Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
  • Frog Environmental
  • Friends of Ickenham Marshes
  • Friends of River Crane Environment
  • Friends of Yeading Brook
  • Harrow Nature Conservation Forum
  • Kingston University
  • Kingston Biodiversity Network
  • London Wildlife Trust
  • The Lower Mole Project
  • The Riverfly Partnership
  • South East Rivers Trust
  • Thames21
  • Thames Anglers Conservancy
  • Thames Water
  • Kindly funded by:
  • City Bridge Trust, Thames Water
  • Crane Valley Partnership
  • The People’s Postcode Lottery
  • Thames Water / Wild Trout Trust (Rivers and Wetlands Community Days)

Kindly funded by:

  • City Bridge Trust
  • Crane Valley Partnership
  • The People’s Postcode Lottery
  • Thames Water / Wild Trout Trust (Rivers and Wetlands Community Days)

Documents: