The State of Kingston’s Rivers
The main rivers and streams that flow through Kingston are the River Thames, Beverly Brook and The Hogsmill River. Their diversity in channel width, depth and length means these bodies of water can support a massive abundance of living species; from over 140 types of macroinvertebrates to RSPB red listed Starlings, and they even feature the odd appearance from a Grey Seal or two!
Yet despite what appears to be a flourishing environment, Kingston’s rivers are currently struggling to withstand the ever increasing pressure that is being placed upon them by untreated pollutants entering the waterways, often as a result of increasing residential and commercial developments. Due to Kingston’s large urban population, the rivers feel the brunt of the issues caused by misconnected pipes, which is a major problem for bodies of water in developed areas. This means that wastewater destined to be carried into the foul sewer, all too often ends up in the surface water sewer by mistake, which carries the contaminated water directly to a local river, stream or soakaway. In some parts of London the occurrence of misconnected pipes is as common as affecting one in three homes.
The reason untreated pollutants are so deadly to the flora and fauna of river ecosystems is that once they enter the river systems, they can impact the water quality in a number of ways; from Microbial pollutants from sewage infecting aquatic life, to altering the water temperature which will in turn alter the level of dissolved oxygen and ultimately impact the living conditions for many species.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for Kingston’s Rivers! In recent years a growing number of volunteers have become active with a number of organisations and are undertaking programs aiming to monitor and protect our Rivers. One such group would be the Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group, which aims to not only get Kingston’s large number of students involved in the local environment, but wider members of the community as well. This group runs schemes such as river bank maintenance sessions and an eel monitoring project in cooperation with ZSL.
Then there is also the Hogsmill division of the River Monitoring Initiative (RMI), who in partnership with the ZSL and the environment Agency encourage a “community-based river stewardship project which brings together local organisations, trained citizens, and science volunteers to work in partnership to improve rivers in the capitol for both wildlife and people”.
There are a number of other wildlife groups in operation in the area and if you would like to get involved, or simply learn more about them, check out the linked groups and our calendar for future events.