River Bollin improvements and partnerships

River Bolin.pngWe have made significant progress to improve the region’s rivers and seas over the last 30 years. We want to make our rivers beautiful and work with our partners to continue to improve and care for them.

We have been delivering ongoing projects to improve the water quality of the River Bollin (pictured) which runs through Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Hale, Bowden, and Dunham.

They include investment in the Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW), partnership work with the National Trust to enhance river water quality, and helping the local community better understand how they can play their part to improve the health of the river.

£50m investment to improve River Bollin

£50 million is being invested at Macclesfield Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW).

The investment will use innovative technology to help improve water quality in the River Bollin.

The project will mean lower phosphorous and ammonia levels in the treated water that is released from the works back into the environment.

The stricter targets, being introduced from the end of 2024, are driven by the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

To meet these lower nutrient limits, innovative Nuvoda Mobile Organic Biofilm (MOB) technology is being introduced at the wastewater treatment works.

This biological approach uses a highly renewable plant material to digest the sludge produced in the treatment process. It has many benefits, helping to optimise the wastewater treatment process, increase capacity, and improve nutrient removal, as well as being friendlier for the environment. 

The investment at Macclesfield WwTW will also provide additional treatment capacity to meet the needs of a growing population, with monitoring of flows and stormwater discharges continuing.

Alison Byrne, Project Manager at United Utilities, said: “Investing in our wastewater treatment works is a vital part of that goal, and the project at Macclesfield will ensure we can continue to treat wastewater to the highest standards and help protect our local waterways.”

Young people get hands on to support their local waterway.

A project to highlight the importance of the River Bollin has helped more than 500 youngsters get to know their local waterway and logged some 72 wonderful species of plants and animals living there – and that’s just the start.

Through United Utilities’ Catchment Systems Thinking (CaST) Account, funding has been provided to the Mersey Rivers Trust for a range of activities across the River Bollin catchment, in places such as Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Bowdon and Hale. The programme of events aims to raise awareness of biosecurity and habitat management, and help people find out more about the plants and creatures that call the river home.

The activities began in winter 2021 with a series of classroom-based sessions for local schools and Scout and Guide groups, helping them find out more about sustainability, water use and storage, the impact of invasive species on our ecosystem, and how they can play their part to help rivers.

Over the past few weeks these groups have been out on the river banks to put their learning to the test and see for themselves what lives in the water. They’ve been getting hands-on through activities such as pond dipping and seeing the plants and invertebrates in their natural environment.

A bioblitz event was also held recently, with around 150 people taking part to log an amazing array of butterflies, birds and bugs. There have also been foraging workshops, guided walks and craft sessions for the wider community, with more activities still to come over the next few months.

Sal Potts, Senior Project Manager at Mersey Rivers Trust, said: “The impact of this funding is phenomenal, with us already having been able to reach so many school children, scouts, guides and members of the public, and there are still lots of events and activities planned for autumn and winter this year.”

Partnership aims to improve water quality at Quarry Mill

We joined forces with the National Trust to explore how community action and the creation of ponds and wetlands could benefit river quality at Quarry Bank, Wilmslow.

Operated by the National Trust, the former cotton mill’s history is embedded in the water which flows down the River Bollin and that reliance continues today to support the operational water wheel and hydropower generation for the site.

However, the River Bollin is not immune to the growing environmental challenges because of a changing climate.

We have previously worked with the National Trust to identify and address flood risk challenges affecting the site. Building on that work, we are now working together to develop short, medium and longer-term plans to enhance river water quality, boost biodiversity and engage with visitors and the local community.

Mark Sewell, wastewater catchment manager, said: “During the last 12 months, we’ve worked together with the National Trust to deliver community events, leaflet drops and a school visit to engage with local residents on how they can play their part to improve river health simply by putting wet wipes in the bin. We’ve had positive feedback that peoples’ awareness of what shouldn’t be flushed down loos is increasing which is very encouraging.”

The next steps could include creating or enlarging existing ponds and wetlands at Quarry Bank and the surrounding area.

As well as keeping rainwater out of the sewer network, these would also create new habitats for local wildlife.

Kathryn Heaton, National Trust Riverlands project manager, added: “We’re in the early stages of this work and we’ll be using scientific modelling to measure success. We’re excited to be working together to develop these plans for generations to come.”