Work to improve Wigan’s rivers are continuing, with six of the eight river Douglas projects already completed.
Opening Up the River (OUR) Douglas Project is the first major project that Ribble Rivers Trust has delivered on the River Douglas Catchment.
What’s up with Wigan’s rivers?
The River Douglas is in a poor state and fails to meet “Good Ecological Status”. A major reason for this is the area’s industrial heritage, specifically weirs. These weirs once helped to supply water to the water powered mills and factories that once dominated Lancashire.
However, these structures, which are often hundreds of years old, are often no longer serving a purpose. In fact, they now reduce the ability of wildlife, especially fish, travel up and down Wigan’s rivers. This movement is essential if fish populations are to reproduce, reach food resources, and recover from flooding, droughts, or pollution disturbances.
So, what are we doing to help?
The project will deliver fish passes at 8 weirs along the River Douglas which will reconnect 106 hectares of river habitats, meaning that fish can migrate from Gathurst all the way to Horwich. So far six of the eight projects have been completed with just Colt’s Clough and Gathurst remaining.
This reconnection will improve fish’s chances of reproducing, help them reach more food resources, and recover from floods, droughts, or pollution incidents quicker than before. The resulting healthier fish populations will support a healthier food chain benefitting birds and mammals.
It will also to raise public awareness of Wigan’s rivers and their biodiversity, as well as making the rivers more natural and pleasant places for people to visit.
Revisiting the rivers
Monitoring carried out by the Trust is already showing a significant improvement in the numbers of invertebrates and fish, and the distances they are travelling. This is great news and it shows that, despite the project still being ongoing, we’re already seeing the results we hoped for.
The project has been delivered by Ribble Rivers Trust, with funding from Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, through the European Regional Development Fund and help from our partner Groundwork CLM.