Who we are

The Mersey Rivers Trust is a charity working in partnership with all those interested in improving our local rivers and waterways. As a member of the national Rivers Trust movement, it is the Rivers Trust for the River Mersey and its catchment.

The Trust is split into three operational catchments:

  1. Liverpool City Region
  2. Greater Manchester
  3. Cheshire



The Trust began life as the Mersey Basin Campaign from 1985 - 2010. The 25 year scheme, backed by the government, aimed to clean up the entire Mersey river system. After the campaign was completed in 2010 the Healthy Waterways Trust, later renamed the Healthy Rivers Trust, continued its legacy to keep improving the River Mersey and its tributaries. In 2017, the Healthy Rivers Trust and the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust merged to form a new charity - the Mersey Rivers Trust. It is hoped that combined knowledge and resources will help the charity grow and continue to create healthier rivers for people and wildlife to enjoy.


Mersey Basin Campaign began

Mersey basin Campaign



Healthy Waterways Trust formed




Mersey Basin Campaign completed

Mersey basin Campaign



Became a Rivers Trust




Name changed to Healthy Rivers Trust

Healthy Rivers Trust




Mersey Rivers Trust formed

MRT logo 2


The Mersey Basin

The Trust covers a large area of the North West River Basin District and includes the rivers Alt, Crossens, Irwell, Tame, Goyt, Bollin, Weaver and more. These rivers feed into the River Mersey which begins in Stockport at the confluence of the rivers Tame (from Manchester) and Goyt (from Derbyshire). From there, the Mersey flows through Warrington and Widnes to Liverpool where it joins the Irish Sea.

The land use is varied throughout the catchment with large urban towns and cities neighbouring farm land, nature reserves, the Peak District and beaches. The Mersey Rivers Trust adopt a ‘source to sea’ methodology to bundle projects together, from up in the peaks to the estuary and beyond. This holistic approach enables us to tackle a variety of issues and combine interventions for multiple benefits. Here is an example of ‘source to sea’ projects in the Upper Mersey catchment:

Slow the Flow > Urban diffuse water pollution issues e.g. from Misconnections > Clean-up events, citizen science with 'River Guardians' > Engage community with 'Love Your River' and 'Call of Nature' projects.

The basin is split into 5 Catchment Partnerships, 3 of which are hosted by Mersey Rivers Trust. They are part of the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) which encourages joint projects and collaboration to achieve healthy rivers on a catchment-wide scale. Our Catchment Partnerships consist of private sector companies, local groups, NGOs, government agencies, sector groups and local authorities. Project ideas and plans are displayed on our Storymap using Arc GIS online.


North West River Bain District with Mersey Basin highlighted.


Urban area

The Mersey Basin includes the cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Salford which, in total, cover an area of over 125 square miles.

Issues to watercourses presented by urban areas include pollution, litter, sediment and flood risk. The top five urban diffuse pollution isses are:

  1. Urban run-off
  2. Misconnections
  3. Trading estates
  4. Sediment
  5. Contaminated land

The Mersey Rivers Trust aims to tackle these issues through river surveys, interventions, public engagement and ongoing monitoring.

High population

Two of the ten most populated cities in the UK fall within the Mersey Basin - Liverpool and Manchester.

According to the 2011 census, Liverpool had a population of more than 466,000 while Manchester had 503,000. These figures are expected to have risen in 2016 to 484,000 and 530,000 respectively.

Salford is a much smaller city with only half the population of Liverpool however its rate of growth between 2011 and 2016 is expected to be greater than that of both Liverpool and Manchester.



Below is a list of rivers within the Mersey Catchment, split into operational catchments.

Liverpool City Region
  • Alt
  • Crossens
  • Birket
  • Fender
  • Dibbin
Greater Manchester
  • Glaze
  • Irwell
  • Medlock
  • Irk
  • Croal
  • Tonge
  • Roch
  • Tame
  • Goyt
  • Etherow
  • Sett
  • Gowy
  • Weaver
  • Dane
  • Wheelock
  • Croco
  • Bollin
  • Lily
  • Dean


Mersey Basin Campaign | Resources

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