Water quality in the Tees Valley is to be given a boost thanks to £500,000 of Government funding that will help to restore peatlands in the North Pennines, reducing the effects of eroding peat habitats on the water that flows into the River Tees.

Northumbrian Water has been working in collaboration with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership and other agencies from across the North of England.


Funding was secured by the partners for the work in Cumbria and County Durham as part of a wider £7m from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to support peatland restoration in England.


Restored and healthy peatlands help to naturally filter and improve the quality of the water entering Northumbrian Water′s water treatment works on the Tees. This work, which starts in autumn 2018, will reduce the cost and environmental impact of treating that water, but also further improve the quality of drinking water that is then delivered across the Tees Valley area.


The £500,000 will help the partnership to deliver:


• Installation of stone dams and coir rolls - natural fibre filters - that slow the flow of rainfall from the land to the Tees, allowing peat sediment to drop out of the water, with the additional benefits of supporting the development of native vegetation through the raising of the water table.
• Reprofile vertical slopes on large peat hags - areas of erosion caused by water flow. This allows vegetation to develop.
• Planting of sphagnum moss, the species fundamental to maintaining blanket bogs and the development of peat.
• Spreading heather-rich brash onto areas of peat that have already eroded, protecting from further wind or rain erosion and supporting the establishment of other plant life.


Rob Cooper, Catchment Advisor at Northumbrian Water, said: "By tackling the effects of peatland erosion at source, the AONB Partnership and others can deliver multiple benefits, both for the environment and for our customers.


"This will help to improve the quality of the river water into the Tees and upland reservoirs, which has a real knock-on effect when it comes to treating the water. It means it is not only more cost effective to treat, but also that the water supplied to our customers across the Tees Valley is of an even higher standard."


Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: "Northumbrian Water has been a strong and supportive partner of our peatland work for over a decade, and together with the other organisations involved, we′re bringing expertise and additional investment into this important area.


"Restoring peatlands provides things that society values, including helping to mitigate the impact of flooding, improving the quality of water and maintaining a habitat that stores carbon and supports wildlife. In the case of water quality, Northumbrian Water′s continued commitment to this partnership work has helped to deliver real environmental benefits in this area."


For further media information, call 0191 3015678.


1. The North Pennines is one of England′s most special places - a peaceful, unspoilt landscape with a rich history and vibrant natural beauty. It was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988. The purpose of this nationally recognised designation is the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the area.


2. At almost 2,000 sq. kilometres the North Pennines is the second largest of the 46 AONBs (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and is one of the most peaceful and unspoilt places in England. Visit www.landscapesforlife.org.uk for information about the AONB Family.


3. The North Pennines lies between the National Parks of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and Northumberland with the urban centres of County Durham away to the east. Parts of the AONB are within the boundaries of five local authorities; the three counties of Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, Carlisle City Council and Eden District Council.


4. The North Pennines AONB Partnership is an alliance of 24 public, statutory and voluntary sector bodies with an interest in the future of the AONB. The work of the Partnership is carried out by its Staff Unit which takes action to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area, to raise awareness of its special qualities and to improve the quality of life for local people.


5. UNESCO Global Geopark - As well as being an AONB the North Pennines is a UNESCO Global Geopark. This puts the area′s Geopark status in the same UNESCO family as World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves. UNESCO Global Geoparks are places with outstanding geology where special effort is made to make the most of geological heritage to support community and economy. Locally this includes producing geo-trails, developing projects with school and community groups, producing displays for visitor attractions and holding geology festivals and events. Funding has been secured for a new programme of activities for 2018 - 2021 that includes new downloadable trails, interactive facilities at Bowlees Visitor Centre and a range of community and school projects.


Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water, and 1.8 million customers in the South East with water services, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.


In the most recent survey by the Consumer Council for Water, Northumbrian Water was named the UK′s most trusted water company by its customers. 2017 also saw Northumbrian Water named the world′s most ethical water company for the seventh successive year and Utility of the Year at the Utility Week Awards, for the second time in four years.