On the 30th October 2011 an estimated 10,000 fish were killed in the River Crane following a major pollution incident due to a failed Thames Water sewage sluice gate.

Thames Water and the Environment Agency worked around the clock to minimize further environmental damage but a seven-mile stretch of the river was heavily impacted.

Fish including mature pike, eel, perch, chub, carp and barbel were wiped out along with the vibrant and colorful insects and water life following the flow of raw sewage.

Immediately after the incident Thames Water accepted full responsibility and pledged that they would fund the restoration of the river over the next five years to improve it beyond its pre-pollution state.

In a significant and welcome move Thames Water has now confirmed a fund of £400,000 to support initiatives along this important river corridor. The Crane Valley Partnership (CVP) is delighted at the opportunity offered by Thames Water.

Jean Rolfe, Chair of CVP, said: “The pollution incident along the lower Crane was heart wrenching, for many local people the river offered a wonderful escape from the frenetic pace of urban life, an opportunity to see, hear and be closer to nature. For such a significant and important stretch of river to be wiped out in less than 24 hours was hard to comprehend.”
CVP, formed of many partners with a vested interest in the Crane, including landowners, local authorities, community groups, angling clubs, wildlife and recreational groups, was therefore delighted when Thames Water proposed their voluntary investment, reinstating the river to a better condition than pre-pollution.”

The Crane Valley Partnership will be the mechanism through which the Thames Water funding will be implemented including the employment of a full time River Crane Coordinator, whose role will be to ensure projects, opportunities and funding work hard and smart to make the most of the investment offered.

Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE) are a local charity and CVP partner. Rob Gray, Chair of FORCE said: “The pollution last October was a terrible event for everyone who knows and appreciates the River Crane. We have been monitoring the river and, six months later, the recovery is very limited – there are still no fish and only a limited variety of invertebrates have returned. Our members have noted that kingfishers and herons, that breed every year along the river, do not appear to be nesting this year.”
FORCE is supporting this initiative so as to improve the environmental value and resilience of the river system. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with CVP partners to ensure that the river is more healthy and vibrant, in five years time on completion of the programme of works, than it was before the pollution occurred. Our long term aim is to achieve a healthy river which has good ecological status and is at very low risk from serious pollution incidents.”

David Harvey, Chairman of the Thames Anglers Conservancy said: “We welcome this voluntary contribution from Thames Water that will have a positive impact on the river. What will be achieved is the best possible future for the River Crane and through such healthy initial funding a platform will be created to rebuild the river for generations to come. Recovery will be slow but hopefully now secure.”

London Wildlife Trust is also very encouraged by the remedial action of Thames Water. Carlo Laurenzi OBE, at LWT said “We look forward to working with partners within the Crane Valley to continue to improve the river for people and wildlife”

— from a Crane Valley Partenership press release