Sponges’ pollution solution

Environment Agency maintenance works to help reduce pollution flowing into the River Douglas, Wigan

Environment Agency maintenance works to help reduce pollution flowing into the River Douglas, Wigan

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SMART sponges are coming to the rescue as the second stage of Wigan’s pioneering pollution project is put into action around the River Douglas.

The ambitious project undertaken by the Environment Agency is designed to reduce rain water run-off contaminants that could flow into the river.

Smart sponges - which are high-tech filtering devices that absorb and store polluting elements without blocking water flow - have been installed in various locations across the borough.

Project manager Louise Cramp said: “We’re making great progress in installing new and innovative pollution-tackling devices designed to benefit the River Douglas.

“We now look forward to assessing the results which will help inform our long term approach to controlling urban pollution on a wider scale.”

The smart sponges have been installed in water run-off trenches on Scot Lane and near to Wigan Little Theatre in the town centre.

Work was also underway this week at a location on Coppull Lane to fit a Storm-X4 separator which removes heavy debris and silt as sediment.

And earlier this year, a downstream defender device, which removes fine particles along with oils and other floating debris from surface water was installed on land alongside the Cherry Gardens pub on Wigan Lane.

The effectiveness of the devices will be assessed over the coming months with scientists from Salford University teaming up with Environment Agency officers for the research.

Experts have warned that diffuse pollution is a significant problem because of its ecological effects and potential to affect drinking water and therefore human health.

Organisers point out that pollution in Wigan is no worse than the national average, the borough was chosen for the trial project because of strong public backing for the scheme.