Warrington-headquartered MWH and three partner organisations are looking at a range possible factors influencing water quality. These include run-off from farmers’ fields, the quality of water coming into the canal from the various rivers that discharge into it, and the quality of water coming into the canal from water treatment plants.
Steve Kenney, MWH’s project and technical manager. said: ‘The waterway does not currently meet the standards laid down under the European Union’s Freshwater Fish Directive relating to dissolved oxygen and ammonia levels, so we are working with partners APEM, RPA and Stirling University to examine the water quality of the canal relating to the fish and invertebrates that live along it.’
The MWH team has designed a comprehensive computer model of the waterway itself and the seven rivers, including the Mersey and the Irwell, that run into it. The model also incorporates the water and waste water run offs that discharge into the canal, to examine the overall impact on the ecology of the waterway.
Kenney added: ‘The freshwater stretch of the Manchester Ship Canal that we are looking at is 24 miles long and receives water from a 2,000km2 catchment including storm outfalls and wastewater treatment works, and our computer model has to take into account all of this. There could be a number of reasons for the existing water quality, and the final report will look at all of these, with the computer model being used to assess the impact of various measures it would be possible for United Utilities to take.’
The project began in November 2007 and continues into early 2008, with a report due to be made to United Utilities in February next year.