Rain gardens to improve the Thames’ water quality

Date: April 12, 2016 By: Gemma Heath in River Thames News
Rain gardens to improve the Thames’ water quality

Efforts to improve the Thames water quality include a pilot project to soak up the run-off with the construction of rain gardens.

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) and Glen Cairn Partners are encouraging homeowners and businesses in south-east London to plant gardens.  These will absorb rainwater, with remaining water diverted to the city’s stormwater sewer system.

Need for rain gardens

Heavy rainfall has caused urban run-off, which London’s sewer system cannot accommodate. Vast volumes of water flood the system and basements, and can’t soak into the ground because of pavements and other barriers.

Much rainwater, along with contaminants from pavements and roads, ends up in storm drains. From there it enters the Thames via creeks, resulting in pollution that undermines the river’s water quality.

Rain gardens will divert this water, and homeowners are requested to disconnect downspouts to prevent directing rainwater to storm sewers. People also are being requested to plant water-loving plants.

The pilot project

The UTRCA and Glen Cairn Partners will host a public meeting about the pilot project on 12th April 2016.

Julie Welker from the UTRCA said the project was an innovative solution to storm water. Project stakeholders are trying to copy the natural cycle and hope that rainwater gardens become a city trend. Ms. Welker added that Low Impact Development was popular in several cities in the US and Canada, and it was time London joined these.

Youths for Christ, an Adelaide Street organisation, has joined the initiative by building a rain garden.

With the river being one of the most popular attractions in the city, and visitors making a beeline for Thames boat hire, it makes sense to improve water quality and preserve its natural beauty.