Tackling pressures on urban water courses: Moston Brook and development of an urban catchment operations approach


Urban diffuse pollution is recognised as a significant issue in 10% of the waterbodies in the North West River Basin District. Surveys conducted during Phases 1 & 2 show that the issue of urban diffuse pollution is particularly prevalent in the urban catchments of Greater Manchester. There are multiple sources of small-scale localised urban pollution, including:

  • Run-off from roads and other hard surfaces.
  • Outfalls and leachate from contaminated sites, old mine workings and redundant industrial premises.
  • Intermittent discharges from water company assets and domestic misconnections.

Responsibility for tackling the problem is equally fragmented and pathways between a pollution source and a receiving water body are complicated and often not visible from the surface.

What we are doing

Delivery of a demonstration project on Moston Brook in Oldham and Manchester districts which will include:

  • A review of citizen science approaches to monitoring and recording local water quality and setting up a structured sampling regime for the brook.
  • Evaluation of exiting green infrastructure assets and implementation of small-scale capital works.
  • Analysis of options for future green infrastructure interventions along Moston Brook or at similar locations across Greater Manchester.

Who else is involved?

The Environment Agency and United Utilities will provide data and evidence. The Moston Brook project, which brings together Manchester and Oldham Councils, and local stakeholders will deliver on-the-ground activities. Lancashire Wildlife Trust will develop volunteer capacity and the Mersey Rivers Trust will support the citizen science aspect of this Action.

Project location

Moston Brook – part of the River Irk catchment in Greater Manchester

Latest update

A revised plan for delivery has been agreed (based on continuing and new restrictions around Covid)

Water testing and kick sampling kits have been finalised, an ecologist has been selected for training volunteers, and volunteers have been recruited.  The revised plan from workshop to on-site training will be delivered when safe to do so.