£110m water treatment investment will cut sewage discharges into River Irwell

Work starts this week on a £110m project to improve water services which includes reducing the number of times sewage is discharged into the River Irwell. As part of its plans to improve the water quality in the River Irwell, United Utilities will be making a number of changes to its wastewater treatment works, off Red Rock Lane, close to Kearsley and Clifton.

To meet growing demand from the Bolton area, United Utilities will be increasing the capacity of the works to allow it to treat 20 per cent more wastewater. They said the increase in capacity will also reduce the amount of times that the storm overflow operates in periods of heavy rain.

There will be major enhancements to the treatment processes at the works to use more innovative technology to treat the wastewater to a higher standard. The storm overflow outfall pipe will also be relocated as part of the project.

The company said full improvements will be operational by April 2025 with landscaping completed by the end of that year. A United Utilities spokesman, said: “As part of the works there will be some traffic management in place on Red Rock Lane and there will be temporary footpath diversions in place for pedestrians as well. “Further projects will take place at Bury and Rossendale wastewater treatment works that together with the works at Bolton will improve the water quality along a 47 kilometre stretch of the River Irwell.”

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Pollution has long been a worry for on the Irwell. In 2019 a site on the River Irwell in Salford was tested by researchers from Bangor University and Friends of the Earth They identified and counted micro-plastic pollutants less than five millimetres in size per litre of water, including plastic fragments, fibres, film and microbeads in cosmetics..

The study found almost 85 pieces of micro-plastic per litre of water at the location. On the River Thames, the figure stood at 84 pieces.

In April 2017, pollution killed wildlife in the Irwell after toxic chemicals were dumped into the water, experts said. River bugs, which provide a food source for fish, were completely wiped out along a 15-mile stretch.

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