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Mayor wants London’s waterways to be swimmable by 2034

  • May 30, 2024
  • 2 min read
Mayor wants London’s waterways to be swimmable by 2034

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called out the ongoing crisis of sewage in London’s rivers and reaffirmed his commitment to produce a plan to make London’s waterways clean enough to swim safely in within the next decade. 

The Mayor was re-elected for his third term earlier this month. He has pledged to ensure utilities clean up London’s waterways. This will follow on from the success of his world-leading work to clean up London’s air where he has cut levels of toxic air pollution. 

New analysis done by City Hall has shown that the sewage flowing into London’s rivers in 2023/2024 was almost four times the amount for the same period the previous year. Between April 2023 and March 2024 Thames Water released sewage into London’s waterways for a staggering 12,105 hours, 37 minutes, equivalent to 504 days. 

Sadiq called on Thames Water, the government and its regulators to clean up London’s waterways. While the Mayor does not have the resource or powers to single-handedly force a change, he has pledged to work with key stakeholders to produce a plan that would clean our waterways within a decade – and hold Thames Water and the government to account to deliver on it. He made clear his plan is not just about the Thames but also about cleaning up other rivers, canals and water bodies so that in key places where it was safe and ecologically sound to do so, there would be more open water swimming possible in London.

While visiting the West Reservoir and Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney, the Mayor expressed that tackling the nature and climate emergencies is an issue of social justice. He announced he would be launching a fund of up to £30m to bring the natural world back to Londoners and adapt our city to the increasing impacts of climate change – with a particular focus on supporting groups run by disadvantaged Londoners and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, who often have less access to green spaces and who are more vulnerable to climate changes. This funding will include money to support rewilding the capital and pay for trees, wildflower meadows, supporting waterways, parklets and other new green spaces. 

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