Nearly £900,000 is being invested in Northumberland, as part of an innovative green scheme to help manage surface water and reduce flood risk naturally.

Working in partnership with Northumberland County Council, Northumbrian Water’s Rainwise initiative in Ovingham will reduce the risk of flooding by reducing the amount of surface water (rainwater from roofs, roads and surrounding land) that flows into the sewer network.

Residents are being invited to find out more about the joint scheme, and give their feedback on plans at a customer information session on Thursday September 28 2017 between 3.30pm and 6.30pm at Ovingham Reading Room, West Road, NE42 6BW.

Representatives from both Northumbrian Water and Northumberland County Council will be on hand to speak through the proposals in detail. They will be joined by the Environment Agency’s new Community Engagement Officer, Emma Craig, who will be helping residents understand their flood risk.

Historically, Northumbrian Water would have used traditional methods such as building bigger pipes and concrete storage tanks to hold surface water back to reduce flood risk.

But through Rainwise, the water company is exploring opportunities across the North East to increase capacity in the sewer network by working with communities and partners to manage rainfall in the natural environment.

The proposed scheme at Ovingham, which is funded by both organisations, will see four grassed storage basins created – two on land behind Dene Garth, one behind Piper Road and another off Horsley Road.

A swale – a shallow grassy channel to divert rainwater – will also be installed on land behind Piper Road, in collaboration with Isos Housing Association. This will capture surface water flows from farmland in the north. The Pipers Hole culvert will be partially abandoned, with the watercourse diverted to the east of Piper Road.

At Dene Close, underground storage will be installed in the grassed area, while an additional 30 metres of sewer pipe will be installed at the entrance to the estate.

Project Manager, Ian Davison, said: “Our sewer network is being put under increasing pressure from heavier rainfall, increasing amounts of hard surfaces that don’t absorb rainwater and growing populations.

“Removing surface water from our network by managing the flows in a more natural way, will help to increase capacity in our sewer pipes, and ensure the area is more resilient to flooding in future. It also allows us to improve the local environment and create green spaces where wildlife can flourish.

“We would encourage residents to get involved in our Rainwise scheme too, by helping manage rainwater at home with small, localised solutions such as installing water butts or planters, creating rain gardens and using water wisely.

“This project demonstrates our commitment to working in partnership with both our partners and communities, and reducing flood risk in an innovative and sustainable way.”

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services at Northumberland County Council, said: “Across the county we have seen towns and villages affected by flooding and we know how distressing and disruptive it can be for communities.

“This is an innovative partnership scheme which uses the natural environment to help protect the village and I hope people will come to the drop-in session later this month to find out more about this project.

“We appreciate the support from local residents during these works and we will do all we can to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Work is expected to start on Monday October 16, 2017, taking around six months and completing on Friday April 20, 2018.

This is the final part of the Rainwise initiative in the area which has also seen work carried out in Wylam and Prudhoe to improve the resiliency of the sewer network that serves the three villages.

To find out more about the project and to receive regular updates while work is in progress, customers can visit Northumbrian Water’s Community Portal at and follow the link to the Ovingham page.

For more information about Rainwise and tips on how to manage rainwater at home, visit