Increase in Environmental Incidents across North West as temperatures continue to soar
The Environment Agency is warning that the natural environment is showing signs of distress in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire as this summer’s hot dry weather continues.
Although the region has seen some periods of rainfall in localised areas, over two very dry months, the Environment Agency has witnessed a rapid decline in reservoir levels across the North West, with significant impacts on the local environment.
Environmental Incidents can either be caused or exacerbated by the hot, dry conditions. From widespread moorland fires on parched ground, to fish in distress due to low water levels and algal blooms affecting water quality – these are all indications of the prolonged dry weather affecting our environment. Hot and dry weather also brings a range of challenges at waste sites, mainly amenity issues like dust, odour and flies but also increased fire risk.
Since the start of June 2018, the Environment Agency has received 114 environmental incident reports as a result of the dry weather across the Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire areas. This includes 14 reports of fires, 13 reports of fish in distress, 22 fish kills, 8 suspected cases of blue-green algae and 10 reports of water pollution. Other reports relate to abstraction, burning of waste, coastal algae, dry boreholes, dust, low flows, low water levels and dry watercourses, noise and odour.
- In Cheshire our Officers have been addressing low water levels in fisheries by making pre-emptive contact with fisheries managers with advice on aeration facilities. Fish holding facilities have been prepared in Winsford Depot should any fish rescues be required, while several fisheries have reported fish in distress due to low water levels including Watchlane Flash and Elworth Anglers.
- Hydropower fish pass checks have also been carried out by our teams; checking hydropower licences holders are compliant, ensuring they are not abstracting above their agreed limit to ensure water resources are effectively managed.
- In order to support vulnerable native fish populations, our Officers have been identifying catchments and tributaries that may be sensitive to low flow, with a view to carry out inspections e.g. Wash Brook in Greater Manchester.
- As part of the Saddleworth Moors Multi-Agency response to the recent wildfires, the Environment Agency offered support in terms of pumps and vehicles, while our staff provided technical support.
- Officers have been working with farmers across the area to assess how the dry weather is affecting the growth of crops. They are helping with water management whilst inspecting water abstractions used for spray irrigation.
Vicky Rockingham at the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency has stepped up its incident response to tackle the impacts of continued dry weather, following the driest June since 1925. In the North West we have seen a sharp increase in reports of environmental incidents with 25% of July’s estimated reports received in just the first three days.
“The outlook for the next few weeks is much of the same hot dry weather, therefore it is important that if people notice any environmental impacts then they report them to the Environment Agency’s Incident Line on 0800 80 70 60. This is open 24/7, so we can take prompt action to investigate and take appropriate action.
“As the prolonged dry weather continues our teams are busy working on the ground responding to incidents across the region, monitoring environmental impacts and actively working alongside businesses and farmers to ensure that we make the best use of the water available.
“The Environment Agency continues to work with United Utilities to ensure that at all times, we make the best use of the water available and minimise any potential impacts to people, the economy as well as the environment, as the dry weather continues.”
The Environment Agency has announced its support to United Utilities’ plans for water restrictions across the North West ‘to help reduce demand for water during this period of prolonged dry weather and protect the environment as well as public water supplies.’
In the North West, Environment Agency continues to work with United Utilities, businesses and farmers to provide advice, helping to balance the needs of water users and minimise impacts on the environment of any dry weather. United Utilities are doing their bit by reducing leaks, so if you do spot any call 0800 330 033 or visit their website.