The Thames catchment extends from Gloucestershire in the west right across the country down to the estuary of the river in east London, covering 12 counties. Nearly a quarter of the UK population – 15 million people – live in this area which is one of the most densely populated regions of the world. Within the catchment there are about 30,000 ponds, 1500 lakes (all man-made in this part of England), about 10,000 km of ditches, streams and rivers. There are also 30 large reservoirs – effectively man-made lakes – run by Thames Water for storing water, mostly in the western and northern suburbs of London.
There are still many beautiful unpolluted and wildlife rich freshwaters in the Thames catchment, and the sensitive plants and animals that you expect to find in clean and unpolluted freshwater. But they are in the minority. The pressures placed on the water environment by the large human population – taking large amounts of water from the landscape, using it and returning it to the region’s rivers and streams, even after advanced treatment, still takes its toll. Added to this is the dirty water running off of roads, towns and farmland which affects ponds, rivers and lakes alike, adds to the threats to our freshwater wildlife. For some freshwater animals – fish in particular – the many locks, dams and weirs across rivers, are an extra impediment.
Click the titles below to explore the Heritage of the Thames Water region
Should we believe all that we hear? What really is the state of freshwater in the Thames Water region?
Find out what makes the Thames Water region such a special place.
Follow the region through history to see how it formed the freshwater landscape we see today.
A short selection of the really special freshwater sites for wildlife within the Thames Water region. Want to find amazing freshwater sites across the country? See our flagship sites.