West London river ‘dries up’ completely in spring heatwave as wildlife struggles to survive

A river in West London has dried up completely and the wildlife has been left in danger due to the unprecedented amount of sunshine London has had at the start of spring. Environmental teams have battled hard over the last few days to refill the waterway before long-lasting damage is done to animals in and around the water. The river could be seen to be completely dried up as of last week (April 3).

The River Crane – which runs through Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond – was impacted by April’s sunny skies. It is not unusual for the river to lose water but this rarely happens outside of summer. Water had to be diverted from other neighbouring rivers and waterways by the Environment Agency to try and help reduce the impact on natural wildlife.

In 2018, a law was passed that meant that no one could remove water from the River Crane in order to protect its wildlife. The law also means that it is the responsibility of the government and public bodies to keep the river full of water.

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The River Crane is usually full of water and houses various species of wildlife

Grant Elanty, 45, Hounslow, volunteers on the River Crane. He said: “It’s not all that rare to see the River Crane at low levels but the lack of water at this sort of time in the year is unprecedented. I work picking litter up along the river and care about the wildlife in it and how it is managed. I’m not a massive climate change warrior but it’s hard to see any other reason for such low levels.

“We were hitting 20 degrees celsius at the start of April and end of March. Although people enjoy the good weather it isn’t good for anyone. Let alone the wildlife in the Crane. It goes without saying, how on earth will fish survive if there is now water for them to swim in?” The good news for some locals is that rain is expected for the next week.

Last year Thames Water set out a plan to improve the Crane. The plans set out a 10-year commitment to help the Crane by boosting biodiversity and addressing water quality issues as well as providing wider benefits for local communities through natural flood management schemes, better access, schools programmes, volunteering opportunities and health and wellbeing benefits.

Richard Aylard, Thames Water sustainability director, said in November 2021: “We are keen to play our full part in protecting and enhancing our precious rivers and streams – while there is still a long way to go, the ambition is clear. Working in partnership with local stakeholders we’ve set out our collective plans to improve the River Crane by reducing pollution, increasing biodiversity, and improving water quality.

“We’re looking forward to working with local partners to improve access and engage as many local people as possible in this wonderful river and the wildlife on their doorstep. Our smarter water catchments are all about Thames Water collaborating with the people who know and love their local rivers the most, for the benefit of future generations.”

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/west-london-river-dries-up-23617909

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