Thames Water is looking at water recycling as part of a plan to augment water supplies in London. A proposed project would include a new river abstraction on the River Thames at Teddington in south-west London, which would be compensated with recycled water from Mogden sewage treatment works, reports the BBC. That would ensure there is enough water left in the river to protect the environment and wildlife.
Thames Water, the utility serving London and parts of the Thames Valley, has prepared a draft strategic plan for future water supply, the draft Water Resources Management Plan 2024, currently open for public consultation. It proposes options to provide a sustainable water supply for the next 50 years, while protecting against the risk of drought and water shortages, and improving the environment.
London is one of the driest places in the UK, and climate change is predicted to reduce the amount of water available in the future, while the population in London and the Thames Valley is expected to continue to grow. Thames Water expects an additional billion litres of water per day will be needed to meet the demand by 2075.
While the plan contemplates reductions in leakage and consumption, it also proposes new sources of water, including a new reservoir, schemes to share water across the South East of England, and the new abstraction in Teddington supported by water recycling.
The water recycling plan is meeting some controversy, due to concerns about the resulting water quality in the river, including increased temperatures. A similar plan was discarded in 2019, and this one comes at a time when public opinion is quite sensitive to the issue of sewage in rivers, even if this time we are talking about recycled sewage.
"What we need to do is keep the flow in the river at the same rate so we don't put the river under stress," said Leonie Dubois from Thames Water. The company plans to build a new advanced tertiary treatment plant at Mogden sewage treatment works. Some of the treated effluent will undergo further advanced treatment and be put into the River Thames in Teddington. That way they ensure the river flow stays constant.
Thames Water has put forward the recycling scheme as the most cost-effective method to augment the water supply fast, within eight years. The plan is still at an early stage and has to undergo environmental assessments.