We have arrangements with the Canals & Rivers Trust to draw off water, to use for cooling purposes and return it to the canal - on the condition that we don't return it above a certain temperature or with anything else in it that it didn't already have in it. With that in mind, there is a heat exchanger and pollution check on the return points to dispose of anything unacceptable.
The arrangement has worked very well for the last 60 years.
This is not difficult to get right, however, Thames Water getting anything right apart from lining the pockets of Macquarie at the expense of the environment is the only thing you can count on them doing.
I sit in an organisation not so far removed from stuff gobbled by Macquarie, and can somewhat libelliously say they are just asset strippers and have no right to be anywhere near critical infrastructure. They have absolutely no vested interest in long-term planning.
I'm not exactly a fan of privatisation anyway, but at least some private outfits ARE motivated by longevity of operation by design.