The data and trends on the status of London’s rivers and water bodies according to the Water Framework Directive. This is part of the water quality section of the London State of the Environment Report 2010.
About the directive
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a significant piece of European legislation that came into force in December 2000, which establishes a framework to manage the whole water environment.
The WFD requires member states to protect, enhance and restore, and prevent deterioration of aquatic ecosystems.
All water bodies need to achieve good ecological status or potential under the Directive.
The status information used for this indicator is the status put forward in the first River Basin Management Plan (December 2009).
Status of river water bodies and the Tideway under WFD
Under the WFD, there are 47 designated river water bodies with all or part of their area in Greater London. Of these:
- One river water body (2%) in London has been assessed as having good ecological status, and therefore meeting the requirements of the WFD. This is the Small River Lee (and tributaries) – this is on the northern border of London. This only has a small part of its area in London.
- There are 30 river water bodies (64%) that are currently assessed as moderate ecological status. These are mainly around the west, north and eastern edge of London.
- 16 (34%) are currently assessed as having poor ecological status. These are predominantly in south London, with a few in the north-east (Roding, Rom and Ingrebourne). All the water bodies have poor or bad status for the biological elements, and some also have poor chemical status.
Eight of the 47 river water bodies covering London have an ecological status objective to achieve good ecological status by 2027, and one by 2015. This is the water body already meeting good status. The water bodies are all in north-east London, except the Cuffley Brook. The remaining 38 have an objective to achieve good ecological potential by 2027. These are all the heavily modified water bodies.
Within the river water bodies for London, 5km of river within the Greater London Authority is classified as having good ecological status under the Water Framework Directive, only 1% of the total designated river length. Just over half (54%) or 226km of the designated river length is classified as moderate ecological status, and the remaining 190km are classified as having poor ecological status.
There are 16 lakes classified under the WFD in London. The majority (10 lakes) in London have been classified as having good ecological status. Two lakes have been classified as poor ecological status, and one has been classified as bad ecological status. These are Walthamstow Reservoirs, William Girling Reservoir and King George Reservoir, all in the Lower Lee Valley. These are poor or bad status due to the biology. The remaining three lakes have moderate status. All lakes in London have to achieve good ecological potential – 10 by 2015, and six by 2027. Those with the 2015 target have already met it.
The upper and middle sections of Thames Estuary, in London, have moderate ecological potential under the WFD. These transitional water bodies are classified as heavily modified due to flood defence and navigation, and therefore have an objective to achieve good ecological potential by 2027.