“Stockport is renowned throughout the entire district as one of the duskiest, smokiest holes, and looks … excessively repellent.” Frederik Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England
Having grown up less than a mile from The River Tame I’ve seen it change from a dead river – poisoned over previous decades by a potent mix of dyes and bleaches discarded by textile mills, pollutants from battery manufacture, coal mining, coal gas production and raw sewage – to a home for fish, kingfishers and goosander. This blog isn’t meant to be a history of clean up of these rivers, there’s plenty of information available elsewhere. This report on the Mersey and its main tributaries is a good place to start.
A newer threat has recently emerged with the upper reaches of the Mersey and the River Tame have the highest levels of microplastics found anywhere in the world. The researchers from the University of Manchester found microplastic contamination throughput the river system including a site on the River Tame which had concentrations up to 517,000 plastic particles per square metre. These rivers flood frequently during periods of rain and the research showed that micro plastic levels were reduced after these events. Except for the River Tame where they had actually increased. This suggest an ongoing source of microplastics, mostly micro-beads – mostly used in cosmetics and beauty products – entering the river.