Chester Canal - Water Survey

Chester Canal - Water Survey

(Posted on 01/11/18)

The Chester canal started construction in 1771, as the people of Chester feared the newly built Trent and Mersey canal would divert trade away from Chester. A bill was later passed (1772) that allowed the canal to be extended to reach Northwich. We at CIS have adopted a stretch of the canal, and as part of our Half Term Elective, we have decided to conduct a water survey. A water survey is important as it helps us to determine how polluted a body of water is, and take appropriate action.

We decided to investigate the pollution levels of the canal by comparing it to tap water. We took a range of scientific measurements, including temperature and oxygen levels. Our results showed that there was less oxygen in the canal (at 21.12%) compare to tap water (28.4%). This would suggest a reduced capacity for marine life. However, research found that most types of fish can survive with oxygen levels above 21%. The canal is therefore perfectly capable of sustaining marine life. The temperature of the canal (13.64°) was lower than that of tap water (14.80°). Research showed that this temperature could sustain small marine life, but larger fish such as trout and salmon prefer much colder waters. Through inspection of the water we found the canal to be opaque. This shows that even though the canal looks murky, it is surprisingly clean.

We also counted the frequency of specific pollutants present. The survey told us there was no glass, metal, rope or raw sewage during the study. However, there was much organic matter in the form of leaves. Alarmingly, there was also a plastic clip lock bag with evidence that it may have contained narcotics. We also found an abundance of food packaging.

Water pollution is graded on a scale of 1 (good) to 4 (bad). We conclude that the pollution level is a 2/3. This is because the water is quite clear and there is evidence that the water can sustain some marine life. If treated properly this water may also be potable. A way to improve water quality would be to create a scheme that utilizes schools and the local community to come twice a year and help clean up the canal. We could also introduce a competition to incentivise ideas for cleaning up the canal. Additional signs could also be added to remind people not to pollute the canal.

Research and report by Ben Lyon & Matthew Sherwood