River Thames was pumped full of oxygen in 2022 to prevent fish deaths

River Thames was pumped full of oxygen in 2022 to prevent fish deaths

Vitality injecting oxygen into the river Thames in 2022


The river Thames in London was so starved of oxygen in August 2022, as a result of sewage and scorching climate, that it was successfully on life assist, New Scientist can reveal. A specialised boat was used to instantly inject the fuel into the water for 11 days that month to stop vegetation and fish dying. As temperatures rise as a result of local weather change, this will likely should be performed extra typically, regardless of current efforts to wash up the river and enhance oxygen ranges.

Save Britain's rivers

Sustaining wholesome oxygen ranges in rivers is important for flowers and fish, says John Sullivan at Thames Water, the corporate that oversees the river. However sewage spills and scorching climate can result in a dramatic drop. For instance, on 19 June this yr, 1000’s of fish have been discovered useless within the river Soar in Leicester, UK, as a result of low oxygen ranges.

Scorching climate is an element as a result of water holds much less oxygen at increased temperatures, says Sullivan, whereas sewage encourages the expansion of micro organism, vegetation and algae that eat the fuel.

To handle this, Thames Water operates two boats, Bubbler and Vitality, that may every inject 30 tonnes of oxygen into the river a day.

Final yr, Vitality pumped this fuel into the Thames for 11 days throughout August, based on a request made by New Scientist beneath environmental data rules, that are designed to make sure such particulars turn out to be public. “[This was] as a result of [low] oxygen ranges within the water, ensuing from the summer season and air pollution build-up within the water,” says a Thames Water spokesperson.

Charles Tyler on the College of Exeter, UK, says this injecting method is a “final resort”. “If it’s important to go right into a river and pump it stuffed with oxygen to save lots of the lives of fish or invertebrates – it’s disaster administration,” he says. “I’m not saying it’s a nasty factor, however I simply assume that it’s tackling the issue a little bit bit late within the sport.”

Each vessels have been in use for many years, however the want for them has been significantly decreased since 2015, when the event of a number of sewage overflow and remedy services lower the discharge of uncooked sewage into the Thames by near 50 per cent, says Sullivan. The boats have been used for 330 hours in 2015, however solely a handful of hours within the intervening years, earlier than logging 215 hours in 2022.

Sullivan suggests {that a} new London tremendous sewer as a result of be operational in 2025 ought to cease as much as 95 per cent of the overflow of uncooked sewage into the Thames, which can make the boats out of date.

However local weather change may imply that Thames Water must hold injecting oxygen into the river, says Sullivan. “Hotter temperatures and fewer rainfall don’t add as much as an excellent idea for oxygen ranges within the Thames,” says Sullivan.


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  • Save Britain’s Rivers

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