12 days of Christmas – Day 12: Introducing Mersey Rivers Trust
Mersey Rivers Trust introduce the large range of issues within their catchments and their targeted approach to solving the pollution issues in their catchments.
When did your Trust form?
The Mersey Rivers Trust formed from the merger of the Healthy Rivers Trust and the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust in June 2016. The Healthy Rivers Trust and its predecessor the Healthy Waterways Trust have been working to improve the rivers in the Mersey Catchment since 1998.
How many people work at your Trust?
The Mersey Rivers Trust is a growing Trust and we’ve increased our employees from 2 in 2016 to 7 in 2018 – a 250% increase!
What are the main issues with Rivers in your catchment?
Urban pollution. We have a variety of issues ranging from nutrient enrichment (high phosphorus) in the Weaver/Gowy catchments, Giant Hogweed/Japanese Knotweed etc. everywhere, however, the biggest issue is urban pollution. The bulk of our catchments run through large conurbations from Greater Manchester to Liverpool resulting in high levels of litter, plastics and diffuse pollution.
In the Bollin catchment, it has high phosphate levels and siltation making the water quality poor. This comes from land management practices and the geology of the catchment.
Are there any particular rivers keeping you up at night and why?
The River Mersey. Formed at the confluence of the River Goyt and River Tame in Stockport, Greater Manchester and running through to the estuary in Liverpool but draining the whole of the Mersey Basin from the Pennines in the east, Rossendale in the north, Cheshire in the south and Merseyside in the west. To make a difference here will require an enormous amount of work in the rivers and tributaries in some of the most populated, urbanised and industrial areas in the country.
Marthall and Pedley Brooks at the source of a large body of water, and even at the source these are in poor WFD status. This is due to phosphate pollution from agriculture and septic tanks. We have worked in the area to remediate these issues by upgrading cattle crossings and liaising with residents about maintaining septic tanks, and what not to put down the drains. With this combination of engagement work and physical improvements, we hope to see water quality gradually improve in these two brooks.
Why is this picture is your favourite photo of the year?
This is a photo of Mike Duddy with a volunteer during our Bioblitz event held in July at Macclesfield Riverside Park. We had a wonderful day with lots of experts on hand to help us record wildlife, and it was a great opportunity for adults and children to get stuck into things like wildlife art, pond dipping and river safari. It was the first time we had hosted a Bioblitz and we’re really looking forward to doing it again next year.
What key issue or project will you be hoping to tackle in 2019?
We are taking a targeted approach by focussing on the most heavily polluted urban rivers such as the River Irk which also runs through some of the most socially deprived areas in the UK. We will work with our partners and the community to improve the quality of the river and use this to trigger to encourage the development of other greenspace projects, communal facilities such as outdoor exercise parks, community centres, footpaths and cycleways.
We aim to reduce flood risk with Natural Flood Management techniques in several projects and we are setting up an NFM Delivery Group via catchment partnerships and Local Authorities, endeavouring to reduce more where we need to.
We are also hoping to be able to tackle issues with siltation in the River Bollin itself. There are several projects that have been identified, such as the creation of reedbeds, fencing, tree planting, creating scrapes and restoring river bank, which will all help massively to hold back some of the silt, and therefore additional nutrients, entering the Bollin.
Any Christmas wishes or New Year’s resolutions for the Trust this year?
A wish to continue with campaigns to make people more aware of the issues with plastic in our waterbodies, and to support litter picking and awareness raising events.
Plus a happy and trouble-free Brexit!!!