Thames Water, the company that provides drinking water for the city of London, has unveiled a new long-term strategy that will recycle sewage to provide drinking water for the entire population. The strategy looks to address the challenges the city will face in the next 25 years as the population the company serves grows from 9 million to 10.4 million by 2040. This will increase demand by between 230 and 340 million liters per day, with about 80 per cent of this rise expected in London.
Sewer photo from Shutterstock
As an added result, the population in London’s wastewater area is forecast to rise from 14 million to 16 million over the same period. This will put more pressure on Thames Water‘s sewage works and will increase the volume of sludge they will need to treat and recycle.
Unsurprisingly, this plan has not sat well with everyone, however as Simon Evans, a Thames Water spokesman said to The Guardian, “It’s all about making sure there is enough water to go around, now and in the future.”
In addition to recycling waste water, Thames Water is also planning to spend the next decade fixing leaky pipes, installing water meters and encouraging people to get their 160 liters-a-day usage down to 150 liters. However sewage recycling will have to play a key part.
Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Andrew Singer, a microbiologist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said, “If there is no further treatment of the sewage before they inject it into the rivers, that could have implications for things that live in the river. The drinking water facility would have to be aware that they are starting off with so much more sewage – the pharmaceuticals in sewage are quite resistant to breaking down, so they would have to work that much harder to make sure the drinking water doesn’t have these chemicals in it. It’s a problem that can be solved by throwing money at it. Whether the rivers are any better off for it, you can look at it two ways – the river will have more water in it, which is a good thing, but the water is going to be from sewage effluent and that’s more of an unknown.”
Via The Guardian