Thames Beats Out Amazon and Yellow River for Prize

monet thames photo

Photo: kunst fur alle: Monet, Waterloo Bridge

The mighty Thames River, a mess in the 1950's, is back. It was declared biologically dead then and now it has won the esteemed International Thiess River Prize for good river management.

The historic (dare we say iconic) river beat out China's Yellow River, Australia's Hattah Lakes and Russia's Smirnykh Rivers Partnership to win the $350,000 prize.

hattah lakes photo

Photo: Hattah Lakes, Australia

The prize money will be spent on further restoration work and a project to twin the Thames with a river in the developing world which also needs restoration.

Hurrah for the Thames: the numbers of fish are increasing, with 125 different species recorded, with salmon as well as otter and sea trout populations returning. In the last five years, 400 habitat enhancement projects have been completed and nearly 70 km of river has been restored or enhanced. This includes changing concrete channels back into naturally flowing streams.

It is quite a coup for the environmental agency looking after the river, since there are 13 million people living along it and there is quite a bit of industry as well. The chemical quality of the river has improved from 53 percent in 1990 to 80 percent in 2008 so that almost 80% of the Thames is now judged to have good or very good water quality.

Previous winners of the prize include Lake Simcoe, in Ontario, the Danube (!) and the Chengdu Sha River, China.

And the other contenders? The Hattah lakes in Australia are ravaged by drought and are part of a system of semi-permanent freshwater lakes within Australia's Murray Darling Basin.

salmon saving photo

Photo: art not oil: Smirnykh River

The Smirnykh Rivers Partnership, Russia has worked with the Sakhalin Environment Watch in protecting the wild salmon streams from encroaching pipelines on the east coast of the Sakhalin Region in the Russian Far East.

pictet nine photo

Photo: Prix Pictet: Nadav Kander: Yellow River
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