A North East water company is supporting a farmer in his efforts to improve the quality of water in a Northumberland river and reservoir.

For the first time, Northumbrian Water has provided a ‘mobile sheep handling system′ to help protect the raw water sources into Catcleugh reservoir, ensuring people in the area continue to receive top quality tap water.


Working with Northumberland Wildlife Trust at Whitelee Moor Nature Reserve and tenant farmer, Bob Hindmarsh, Northumbrian Water identified that rainwater running across the farm yard where sheep were held, was flowing directly into the River Rede.


This was having an impact on the water quality throughout the Catcleugh Catchment, particularly in the Byrness, Rochester, Otterburn and Gunnerton areas.


The new portable sheep pen, provided by the water firm, will allow the farmer to hold the sheep out in the field when it comes to tasks like shearing and medicating, avoiding the build-up of waste on the hard-standing shed area.


Northumbrian Water works across the North East, focusing on reducing the amount of pesticides, bacteria and parasites, such as Cryptosporidium, from being washed into rivers, streams and reservoirs from farms.


Jamie Jasinski, Catchment Advisor, said: "It′s really important that we work with our partners and the community to carefully manage catchments across our region to improve water quality, as well as the other environmental benefits this can bring.


"Farm holding areas inevitably do end up being contaminated with concentrated livestock waste, which can be carried into local water courses.


"This is the first time we′ve ever provided a grant for a mobile sheep handling system, but by working in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the farmer, we identified it as the best solution to help protect our raw water sources from contamination."


Geoff Dobbins, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Senior Reserves Officer, said: "The Trust has worked with Bob for over 20 years and he has been a great champion for wildlife on Whitelee Moor, so needless to say we are delighted he has received the grant.


"Not only will the new system benefit the water quality for Northumbrian Water customers, it will also benefit the wildlife in the area."