Weekly water quality monitoring data for the River Thames (UK) and its major tributaries (2009–2013): the Thames Initiative research platform

M. J. Bowes*, L. K. Armstrong, S. A. Harman, H. D. Wickham, P. Scarlett, C. Roberts, H. P. Jarvie, G. Old, E. Gozzard, N. Bachiller-Jareno, D. S. Read

*Corresponding author for this work

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The River Thames and 15 of its major tributaries have been monitored at weekly intervals since March 2009. Monitored determinands include major nutrient fractions, anions, cations, metals, pH, alkalinity, and chlorophyll a and are linked to mean daily river flows at each site. This catchment-wide biogeochemical monitoring platform captures changes in the water quality of the Thames basin during a period of rapid change, related to increasing pressures (due to a rapidly growing human population, increasing water demand and climate change) and improvements in sewage treatment processes and agricultural practices. The platform provides the research community with a valuable data and modelling resource for furthering our understanding of pollution sources and dynamics, as well as interactions between water quality and aquatic ecology. Combining Thames Initiative data with previous (non-continuous) monitoring data sets from many common study sites, dating back to 1997, has shown that there have been major reductions in phosphorus concentrations at most sites, occurring at low river flow, and these are principally due to reduced loadings from sewage treatment works (STWs). This ongoing monitoring programme will provide the vital underpinning environmental data required to best manage this vital drinking water resource, which is key for the sustainability of the city of London and the wider UK economy. The Thames Initiative data set is freely available from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology's (CEH) Environmental Information Data Centre at https://doi.org/10.5285/e4c300b1-8bc3-4df2-b23a-e72e67eef2fd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637–1653
JournalEarth System Science Data
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • water quality
  • monitoring
  • River Thames


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