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Impact Of Humans On The River Thames Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1586 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The River Thames is a river flowing through southern England and several other towns and cities including Oxford, Reading and Windsor. It is the second longest river in the United Kingdom and the longest river entirely in England. The Thames, from Middle English Temese, is derived from the Roman Celtic name for the river. Since the early 20th century, some historians suggest the name Isis, after the Egyptian goddess of that name; it was called the Thames from Latin. The river gives its name to political names including The Thames Valley which is a region of England and the Thames Gateway which is the central around the tidal Thames and the Thames Estuary in the Eastern London.

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The Thames contains over 80 islands and having seawater and freshwater. It’s useful by supported human activity by providing habitation, water power, food and drink, transport and tourism such as tidal river, Upper River, navigation, sport such as rowing, sailing, skiffing, punting, canoeing. More than twenty-four bridges span the Thames in London, from Kew Bridge to Tower Bridge brings benefits for transportation and trading.

Thames River is located in Southern London, the capital of the United Kingdom. It rises at Thames Head in Gloucestershire and flowing into the North Sea at the Thames Estuary. The Thames flows through or alongside Ashton Keynes, Crick lade, Lech lade, Oxford, Abingdon, Wallingford, Goring-on-Thames, Reading, Henley-on-Thames, Marlow, Maidenhead, Windsor, Eton, Stains, Sunbury, Weighbridge and Thames Ditto before entering the Greater London area.

Thames River has its length of 346 km (215 mile). The drainage area covers a large part of South Eastern and Western England and the river is fed by over 20 tributaries, drainage area of 4,994 square miles (12,934 km2). Its volume is 17.6 m3/s when entering Oxford and 24.8 m3/s when leaving Oxford.


Under the Emperor Claudius in AD 43, when the Romans occupied England and recognized the River’s strategic and economic importance, built fortifications along the Thames valley. They developed the Port of London when they established a settlement called Londinium on the River Thames. During 16th century, it became a major trading and ship building area for the Saxons, Normans and Tudors.

In order to flourish trading on London’s blocks, at the end of the 19th century, a Royal Commission conducted to create the Port of London Authority. Since 1909, it started to provide quays, wharves and warehouses. The Thames and London’s blocks were suffered greatly by thousands of bombs and impacts on riverside sources during the World War II.

By the 18th century, the Thames became the world’s busiest waterways. In 1825, it is effective to build London Bridge with few pillars, the river completely stopped freezing in cold winters. In the early 1980s the Thames Barrier, was opened which acts as a flood channel for the Thames around Maidenhead and Windsor to protect London from flooding. It is usually left open to let ships go through. In times of tidal surges, the gates are shut to keep the water out of the estuary. (River Thames History, 2005)

The river has been important trade and transport route. Barges and river boats brought fish, wood and wool into the city. Moreover, trading ships were arriving carrying all kinds of goods such as tea, silk, a fortune of species from the East and sugar from the Caribbean, timber from Norway and iron ore from Sweden. The Thames also supported humans’ activity of farming, milling and building millraces and fish traps.

Impact of Human Use

Rivers for Water

Two -thirds of water used in Britain comes from river and lakes, a third from the groundwater. It is popular for riverside housing in central London dwelling on houseboats. It also uses for domestic purpose, fish farming and industry. Moreover, power stations take cold water from the Thames and turn it after using. Burning fuel boils water to create steam. The steams turn into turbines that produce electricity.

Drinking Water

One of the major resources provided by the Thames is drinking water provided. It is the second largest use of river water for the public water supple. Thames provides more than 90% fresh water of London’s water.

Water for industries

The industrial uses of water are numerous. The industries produce metals, wood and paper products, chemicals, gasoline and oils. Industrial water use includes water used for such purposes as fabricating, processing, washing, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product. All the industrial processes use river water and groundwater.

River for leisure

Fishing is arguably Britain’s most popular sport. The River Thames has a variety of 120 fish species. In some parts of Thames without tidalIn the non-tidal Thames, Roach, Chub, Perch, Pike and Bream can all be found along the whole of the river. Motorboats are common on the Thames. There are many popular sports celebrated on Thames River such as rowing, sailing, skiffing, punting, and canoeing.

River for transportation and tourism

London is famous with many sightseeing tours on the boats, go around the most beautiful riverside such as the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. There are many sport activities and entertainments on the Thames river, it helps increase the number of business including boatbuilding, ships and marinas.

Thames River is useful for transportation and trading. More than 24 bridges over river, it helps reduce traffic jams. Before bridges were built, when people want to cross the river, they have to use ferry. When the towpath changed sides, it is easy for taking people by horse. Some ferries still use on the river. The Woolwich Ferry carries cars and people across the river in the Thames Gateway. Moreover, it also uses for trading goods such as woods, silk, wool, sugar, tobacco from other countries. (Barrow, 2005)

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Water quality of Thames has been fluctuations. The reason of degradation in the river water quality in London is the sources upstream of the city including industry, storm water and pollution plant discharges. (Thames river quality, 2010). London in its constant growth had pouring into it its sewage and rendering it one huge sewer. One of the most serious reasons of polluted water is that many factories discharges chemicals into the river of untreated sewage. Moreover, it is caused by human activity. People enjoy sporting such as rowing, canoeing, and sailing after heavy rainfall downstream of Teddington Lock, where the tidal river starts, because of health hazards.

The sewage, which can be diverted into the Thames during storm events to prevent London from flooding, reduces dissolved oxygen levels and can be fatal to sensitive aquatic species such as fish and invertebrates. More than 100000 fishes were killed because of thousands of tons on untreated sewage into Thames.

Impact of a Proposed

There are twenty four bridges over the Thames River, from Kew Bridge to Tower Bridge. The oldest is London Bridge, which was originally made from wood in 1176. London Bridge is between of the City of London and Southwark. In 1209 it was replaced by a stone bridge with shops and houses along its sides. A new bridge was built in 1831 and the present London bridge in 1973. (Barrow, 2005)

Man- made and natural drainage features work together to collect and manage storm water: catch basins; overland conveyors; underground pipes; outfalls and wet ponds. A catch basin, called a storm sewer drain, by the grate on the curb. Under the road, the catch basin helps to collect water and feed into the pipe network. Sediment settles out into the bottom of the catch basin. All water above the ground eventually flows into the underground pipe system. Outfalls are the exit points from the underground pipe system. London has more than 500 outfalls. It locates downtown in the Thames River, called storm water management.

London has over 70 wet ponds that collect rainwater. It helps to absorb and release back into streams more slowly, reduce erosion and flooding and improve the water quality. Wet ponds are created to help manage water flow and many features natural vegetation and habitat for birds and animals

In order to keep the good quality water in Thames River, they use a rain barrel to collect, reuse and converse water. Moreover, the government has more strict policy to prevent people discharge chemicals, old paint, oil, sewage into the river.


Thames River is the longest river in London. It’s a major river because it provides more than 90% of London’s water. Thames River brings many benefits to human such as boating, fishing, tourism, transportation, industry, power stations and makes people enjoy many popular and interest sports. By human activity, water quality in Thames has been fluctuations. Day by day, it continues deteriorate because of sources upstream of the city, as well as sources within the city, including industry, storm water runoff and pollution control plant discharges. In order to make the water clean, the government has many ways such as creating ponds. It collects rainwater, runoff and melting snow. it helps to minimize erosion and improve water quality


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