New Northumberland River Water Quality Project!
A new river quality project, led by Nature England in partnership with Northumbrian Water, is set to begin, focusing on the River Tweed catchment, the Tweed Estuary and Northumberland Coast to help reduce nitrates entering waterways from agriculture.
The multi-million pound LIFE Water and Disturbance Environmental Restoration project aims to improve the ecological condition of over 49,000 hectares of habitat and water quality for the species that live there.
The Tweed catchment and estuary support overwintering birds like the turnstone and purple sandpiper, for example, as well as Arctic tern breeding colonies. The hope is that this new project will help to keep invasive species under control.
Other organisations involved in the five-year project include Newcastle University, Tweed Forum and the Environment Agency, with funding totalling £5.8 million.
Northumbrian Water’s involvement forms part of its Water industry National Environment Programme, working alongside its own investments to reduce the impact of its own operations and assets on water quality.
Rob Cooper, catchment adviser with the utility company, explained that this part of Northumberland is vital for certain species, as well as for people who come to visit and explore the surroundings.
He went on to add: “It’s so important that we work with partners on projects like this, supporting other industries and protecting our environment. It’s vital that the interaction between land management and river water quality is looked at holistically, if we are to make the improvements we, our customers and communities, want to see.
“So, our efforts to support agriculture in reducing nitrate loss from fields into water courses and aquifers – water stored in underground rock – complements everything we are working to achieve in terms of our own operations.”
Other work that Northumbrian Water is involved with includes a new multi-agency conservation project to help protect the north-east’s water vole population. The utility company is supporting the partnership project through its Branch Out environmental fund.
Led by Durham Wildlife Trust, the Naturally Native partnership project intends to halt the decline and aid recovery of native water voles throughout the north-east, with the first phase of the work due to be carried out on the River Don, at the Hetton, Rainton and Moors burns in County Durham, as well as at a tributary of the Tyne.
Strategies that have already proved successful in Scotland and East Anglia will be employed to address predation from non-native American mink, as well as habitat fragmentation and loss.
Project manager Kelly Hollings explained that they are already working with landowners to survey water vole populations, as well as monitoring numbers of the American Mink. Online training has also been delivered to 58 volunteers to help survey the voles, with this also followed up with practical training.
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