Understanding the sources contributing to micro plastic contamination of rivers in Greater Manchester

 Background:

Micro plastics are known to cause issues to marine life and their accumulation in the oceans is an issue of growing international concern.  Research in Greater Manchester, published in 2018, highlighted that micro-plastic contamination of rivers is a significant contributor to the build-up in our oceans as well as the problems it can cause to the river itself and life within it.  Studies have recognised that the River Tame in Greater Manchester has the highest level of micro-plastic contamination in any aquatic environment that has been examined to date. Whilst this research identified the problem it did not identify the cause or what could potentially be done to resolve it.

Further work is needed to understand the issue in greater detail.

What we are doing:

Environment Agency, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and United Utilities through Natural Course have jointly commissioned a 2-year study to investigate this issue further.  The aim is to understand more about micro plastic contamination of rivers in Greater Manchester, the sources of the problem and what can be done to tackle it.

This project was originally planned to take place in Phase 3. Following several delays, it has now been included in the Phase 4 portfolio of work.

Who else is involved?

Environment Agency, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and United Utilities will commission an external consultant to carry out the study.

Project location:

Water courses in Greater Manchester, with a focus on the catchments of the Rivers Irk, Medlock and Roch.

Latest Update:

The study has been commissioned and sampling is due to commence in early 2022.