Greater Manchester is home to four river catchments, the Irwell, Upper Mersey, Lower Mersey and Douglas. The main focus for Greater Manchester will be the Irwell catchment, which is home to 34 water bodies and incorporates the Irwell, Croal, Roch, Medlock, Irk and their tributaries. This densely populated urban catchment will be a key focus area for the first phase of the project.

Currently, the Irwell catchment bears little resemblance to its natural state and is classed as “Heavily Modified” and has poor, or at best, moderate ecological status.  This highly urbanised landscape leaves a significant number of properties at risk of flooding.

As part of Natural Course, Greater Manchester organisations will work together to deliver integrated water management solutions, tackling issues such as diffuse pollution from urban and rural sources and flood risk management.

The GMCA is developing an integrated approach to strategic planning across the region through the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), a significant opportunity to manage Natural Capital in the context of the wider economic, social, growth and infrastructure plans for the city region.

The Irwell catchment is hosted by Groundwork MSSTT, the Upper Mersey and Lower Mersey Catchments are hosted by Mersey Rivers Trust and the Douglas catchment is hosted by Groundwork CLM.