How Green Is Our River ?

summer 2014 072Many of the rivers in the North of the Mersey Basin region are devoid of aquatic plant life, a direct legacy of over 200 years of industrialisation. The traditional local industries of cotton, paper and bleaching – have literally burnt the riverbeds clear of life. Whilst insects and fish have re-colonised the rivers its taking a lot longer for the correct native plants to re-establish themselves. So over the last few summers, our volunteers have been giving a helping hand by transplanting species such as Starwort and Water Crows Foot  from sites where it grows in abundance, to sites where it previously didn’t exist. We hold volunteer action days throughout the summer months, when we get our feet and our hands wet digging new plants into the river bed. Its great fun and you are welcome to join us. Keep an eye out for forthcoming events via our volunteer days webpage.

Above is a picture of the River Roch flowing through Heywood, taken last summer (2014).  The sight of luscious beds of water crows foot with its beautiful white flowers could lead you to think that you were on a chalk stream somewhere on the South Downs – not a post industrial river that’s contaminated with sewage effluent, phosphates, ammonia and heavy metals. It might take a while – but we can return our rivers to a condition we can be proud of.


In the South of the Mersey Basin region – the opposite is often the case. Over enrichment of our waterways can be caused by the  over enthusiastic fertilisation of farm land which results in huge explosions of weed and algae growth. These proliferations can choke our waterways – making it difficult for fish to migrate, and causing potential flooding issues. We are looking to work with farmers in the Mersey Basin region to make them aware of agricultural best practices in relation to getting the best from their land, but at the same time protecting our waterways.


Algae Bloom caused by over enrichment of water by nutrients









We have asked the Environment Agency to provide us with data on the chemical analysis of our local rivers, and so far have data on two rivers the Irwell and the Irk – which have been published Here Irwell and Here Irk

We are looking forwards to publishing more data on the water quality of our local rivers such as the Mersey, Tame, Goyt, Dane and Weaver.