Edited by David Pearce
Chapter 14: The Value of a Tidier Thames: Willingness to Pay to Reduce Sewage Overflow
s Susana Mourato, Ece Özdemiroğlu, Giles Atkinson, Jodi Newcombe and Yvette de Garis INTRODUCTION The River Thames is well known worldwide as the body of water that weaves its way through Central London and past some of its most famous views: Greenwich, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Hampton Court, to name but a few. One-third of the river – the section that runs through all of London, from Teddington in West London out to the seaward limit – is tidal and known as the Thames Tideway. The Thames Tideway has suffered from severe pollution many times over the past 200 years. In the 1950s there was virtually no life in the river. However, thanks to a number of efforts since the 1970s, most importantly in the treatment of sewage, there has been a steady improvement in water quality. Today, the river supports a diversity of ﬁsh life, including 120 different ﬁsh species. The waters naturally appear brown in colour, not because they are dirty, but because of the sand that is being continually stirred up from the river bed with the fast ﬂowing water. In fact there are claims that the Thames Tideway can now be considered one of the cleanest metropolitan rivers in the world (Thames Water, 2002). However, untreated sewage still ﬁnds its way into the Thames on a regular basis. This is because London’s complex drainage system, which dates back to the late nineteenth century, is ‘combined’. This means it carries both human...
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