Northumbrian Water's Water Ranger initiative, the first of its kind within the UK Water Industry, will next week be celebrating working in partnership with volunteers from a wide range of communities to help protect 56 of the region's waterways more prone to pollution.
The annual celebration event, organised by Northumbrian Water, will be held at the Emirates Riverside in Chester-le-Street as a thank you to volunteer Water Rangers who have completed more than 8,500 patrols since the launch of the initiative in December 2014.
Head of Wastewater Networks, Simon Cyhanko, said: "We're incredibly proud of our community initiative and excited to be hosting our fifth annual celebration event to acknowledge the amazing work of our volunteers.
"This event is an opportunity for us to personally thank our volunteer Water Rangers, mini assistants and key partners for their ongoing support with the programme.
"Our community initiative has been hugely successful and reflects our commitment to looking after the environment. On a number of occasions, our volunteers have helped us spot and deal with pollution threats at the earliest possible opportunity, often helping to avoid potential incidents from happening in the first place."
Water Rangers also report on issues that are not the responsibility of Northumbrian Water such as fly tipping, fallen trees, abandoned shopping trolleys, defects in footpaths and missing life buoys so that this information can be passed on to relevant authorities to deal with.
Sunderland Water Ranger, Dave Groark, said: "It's wonderful to be part of this community initiative helping to protect and improve our region's waterways. I find being a Water Ranger very rewarding and its fantastic seeing the scheme celebrating its fifth year."
Volunteers regularly patrol a total of 74 kilometres of watercourses, equivalent to walking from Durham to Amble in Northumberland, and report their findings after their patrols so that any potential pollution can be dealt with quickly.
Castle Eden Water Ranger, Steve Green, said: "I'm passionate about doing my bit for the environment and it's great to be part of this community scheme.
"The programme is really making a difference in protecting the environment, bringing communities together and helping to improve our rivers for generations to come."
Everyone can do their bit to keep watercourses and bathing waters in our region healthy and clean. By binning the wipe and not flushing them down the loo will help to protect the environment, as well as making sure that the drains that serve homes and businesses are connected to the correct sewer.