Volunteers map drains, pipes and outfalls to measure diffuse pollution in the River Irk

Since December 2017, volunteers have been out surveying the River Irk in the northern parts of Greater Manchester to map drains, pipes and outfalls that potentially feed into the River Irk, generating a comprehensive map of possible sources of diffuse pollution which may be impacting the water quality of the river.

9 volunteers from Mersey Rivers Trust, Salford Friendly Anglers, Greater Manchester Ecology Unit and the Rochdale Countryside Management Service alongside members of the Irwell Catchment Partnership, were trained to carry out the surveys.

The volunteers captured the location, a picture of the site and the status of each of the numerous pipes and drains, or outfalls, which could potentially discharge to the river and fed this information into the Environment Agency’s national catchment walkover recording tool.

The River Irk was identified as a priority for surveying urban diffuse pollution during the first phase of Natural Course, which focused on gathering information and evidence about the catchment of the River Irwell. The results of the survey will be used as part of the emerging catchment management plan for the River Irwell and will include the River Irk.

Jo Fraser, Manchester’s River Valley Coordinator, said: “The information provided by the volunteers will really help us create a detailed picture of what sources of diffuse pollution could be affecting the water quality of the River Irk. We are currently in the process of finalising our catchment management plan for the River Irwell and this will be a vital dataset that will help us identify problematic areas.”

The information gathered during the survey will also be used by the Environment Agency and other organisations to develop a new vision for the River Irk.

Once the lessons have been learned from the survey of the River Irk the approach will be extended to the River Medlock in the east of Greater Manchester in late 2018.