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News article created on 18 December 2012

Olympic Park waterways gain top sustainability score

Our work to improve the of waterways running through the Olympic Park has been awarded an ‘Excellent’ rating by CEEQUAL, the sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme for civil engineering.

Bow Loop has been transformed from a polluted backwater into a vibrant network of waterways that sparkled during the Olympic Games and will leave a valuable legacy for both people and nature. Leela O'Dea, environment manager

Working with Land & Water to deliver the project, we gained an outstanding score of 92 per cent for the regeneration works to the Bow Loop, which runs round the Olympic Stadium. The works included dredging, removing fly tipped material, controlling invasive plants, preventing soil erosion and creating new habitat to encourage native wildlife. Taking place over a six month period between August 2011 and January 2012, the cost of the project was £2 million.

The waterways had to play a key role during the Olympic Games, where they formed an important part of the visitor landscape, as well as leaving a sustainable legacy for locals and visitors.  Historically the waterways played a vital role in flood management but prior to the regeneration work the area had fallen into decline, become unnavigable and was subject to antisocial behaviour such as vandalism and fly tipping.

Kingfishers and sand martins

We gained a perfect 100 per cent for our ecological work. Soft banks and gabion planters helped retain and extend valuable river and reed bed habitats, while the creation of nesting sites and resting posts enhanced the area for specific species such as kingfishers and sand martins. Dead wood was kept and used to make bat roosts and for material to encourage fish spawning. The invasive plants that had colonised the waterways, including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, duckweed and floating pennywort, were all brought under control.

Over 37,570 tonnes of waste that was generated by the project was sustainably managed.  As much as possible was reused on the site to create the bank, while the remaining material was used for various purposes including landfill capping and soil washing to reclaim the material. Fly-tipped material such as metal, timber, cars and electrical appliances which were removed were recycled directly. In total 83 per cent of waste was reused, 15 per cent was recycled and only 2 per cent of the total was disposed, leading to a CEEQUAL score of 94 per cent.

Valuable legacy

Leela O’Dea, environment manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have our sustainability credentials endorsed by this ‘Excellent’ rating from CEEQUAL. Bow Loop has been transformed from a polluted backwater into a vibrant network of waterways that sparkled during the Olympic Games and will leave a valuable legacy for both people and nature.  Sustainability and environmental protection underpins all our work and we will continue to uphold these high standards.”