Cod Return to Thames but They Had Better Stay Down River

Article excerpt


IT is a tale of two rivers. Near its estuary, the Thames is so clean that fish are thriving and the first cod since 1997 have been found.

But upstream in west London, the water is so polluted by sewage that fish are dying in their thousands and people are advised to wash their hands after touching the water and to visit a doctor if they ingest even a drop.

At an angling contest, organised by the Corporation of London to check the river's health near Gravesend, a record haul of 882 fish were caught in a day.

Along with bass, cod, eel, flounder, sole and whiting, seahorses and dolphins are flourishing in the Thames.

But upriver, every time there is a deluge, millions of tonnes of sewage are pumped into the river to prevent drains overflowing.

"Often there is more sewage than water going into the river in some areas.

This is having a big effect on the wildlife higher up the river," said Jon Averns, the Corporation's health director.

The Health Protection Agency is undertaking a [pounds sterling]50,000 yearlong study into whether the Thames is a health risk for recreational users, some of whom have suffered stomach upsets.

"Our advice to Thames river users is to wash their hands after touching the water. And if they ingest any water

they must contact a doctor immediately," said Mr Averns.

"There is the potential for the Thames to become a major public health issue and with the Olympics coming up we need to make sure it is a clean river particularly as a lot of the rowers will use it for training purposes. …


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