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Love the Lea


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Pollution on Salmons Brook, Enfield Pollution on Salmons Brook, Enfield

The rivers in East London’s Lea Valley are the most polluted in Britain. The Lea, Salmons Brook, the Pymmes Brook, Turkey Brook, the Rivers Ching and Moselle and the Stonebridge Brook are being damaged by sewage, household chemicals and oil on a daily basis.






Thames 21 report:

Water quality tests carried out by Thames21 and University College London show the amount of faecal e-coli bacteria in the Lea regularly exceeds international standards by more than 40 times. This is from the sewage washed into the river after heavy rainfall – Deephams Sewage Treatment Works in Edmonton overflows discharging millions of tonnes of wastewater into the River Lea. An area of green space in London the size of twenty two Hyde Parks has been paved over in recent years seeing more and more rain go down the drain and cause problems.

The toilets from thousands of homes are adding to this damage by sending waste down pipes only meant for rainwater that lead to rivers.

Oil and chemicals on our roads also get washed into rivers every time it rains, adding another dose of poisons to the water.

Water Pollution Gallery


Love the Lea Action

Love the Lea is proposing three 'Big Solutions' that will improve the health of the Lower Lea’s rivers into the future.

We need to keep rainwater out of the sewers. Deephams Sewage Treatment Works is to be upgraded by 2021 which will see it meet higher standards. But North East London’s population will keep growing as will the amount of rain getting into sewers.

To make sure Deephams has enough space to treat sewage long after 2021, East London needs to build a comprehensive network of natural drainage systems in parks, next to roads, blocks of flats and at all new developments. These will cut the amount of rainwater that enters the sewers, reducing sewage overflows to rivers. The Greater London Authority’s Drain London must lead on this working out where the SuDS can go.

Countless homes are misconnected. We can all check where we live to see if the pipes from showers, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets join the foul sewer and not the drainpipe.

We need council Building Control Departments and Approved Inspectors to do more to protect rivers – officers must check that extensions like shower rooms and kitchens are connected properly.

Natural Drainage systems can help to cut the chemicals that get washed into our rivers from roads when it rains. Roadside verges can be turned into green filters for storm water.

If you see any river pollution – phone the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60, ask for a reference number and to be called back.


What you can do

To support the campaign actions above:


Love the Lea Projects

Salmons Brook – Healthy River Challenge

Project Reedbed

River Friendly Council Checklist

Water Quality Testing Lab at University College London

Water Quality Testers – Citizen Scientists

For more information, contact Theo Thomas: theo.thomas@thames21.org.uk Tel: 020 7093 6385 Twitter: @theojthomas

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Tagged as:

River Lea, Aquatic Pollution, Thames 21