North West takes the lead in improving water quality

North West England has been chosen to lead Europe in a ground-breaking project that will build capacity to protect and improve our North West water environment.

Working in collaboration, the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, Natural England and The Rivers Trust will use their diverse expertise to deliver a range of solutions that will help improve water quality in North West England.

Current estimates show that over 78% of rivers in North West England are not considered healthy and many solutions are found to be too expensive to implement.

Home to a diverse range of landscapes and barriers, the North West has been chosen to lead in finding solutions to the problem and will share its findings with the rest of the UK and Europe.

Nick Hopwood, programme manager for Natural Course, said: “The North West is the perfect location for testing these solutions. Manchester and Liverpool were both heavily modified throughout the industrial revolution and have been left with a number of long-lasting challenges in restoring healthy rivers in the region. This area also has high levels of diffuse pollution from trade and historic chemical and metal pollution.

“Further up the region, we have the Lake District which has a number of Special Areas of Conservation where we will need to work closely with landowners and farmers to find adaptable natural solutions to better water quality.”

The project will assess the natural course of the rivers and their natural flow of direction, remove and adapt weirs and other physical modifications, plant trees and vegetation, work with farmers to address rural diffuse pollution and look at misconnections of pipes that flow into the rivers.