The tide of change is coming to a South Tyneside river with a £100,000 operation to take it from bunged-up to cleaned-up.
Environmentalists are joining forces with landowners to improve the colour and flow of the River Don in Jarrow - officially rated as ‘failing’.
They are acting to prevent dirty water from farm and small holdings washing into -and polluting – the river.
The improvement project will also remove natural and man-made blockages which are impairing fish from migrating upstream.
A partnership led by the Tyne Rivers Trust charity and the Environment Agency will work with an estimated 10 landholders - including Beverly Elliott, owner of Milldene Farm, Jarrow.
She has been working with the trust to re-locate a muck heap on her land which was built on a natural spring and means dirty water has been flowing into the river, which passes the bottom of her property.
She said: “We bought the land in 2010 when it was in a poor state of repair and have been working to improve it since then.
“When the trust approached us about ways we could reduce pollution flowing into the river, we jumped at the chance.
“The river is such a vital part of the local area and an important focus for wildlife that we want to help improve it.”
The river’s source is at Springwell in Gateshead, close to the Angel of the North monument.
In South Tyneside, it flows through parts of Boldon and then Jarrow, into the Tyne.
The project will also see better fencing installed to reduce sediment and prevent farm animals entering the river.
Blockages, including those caused by man-made weirs, will also be removed to help migratory fish move upstream to breed.
Danielle Anderson-Walker, the trust’s farms liaison officer, said: “The River Don is a fantastic asset for the local community and we want to see it thrive.
“With the right interventions and help from landowners and people in South Tyneside, we’re confident that it can improve.”
The trust has been working to improve the River Tyne and its catchment area since 2004 and carried out a study of the River Don in 2016 to identify where pollution was entering it.
Bosses are now in discussions with the Environment Agency around funding for new projects to 2025.
The current scheme is part of a wider partnership called the River Don Sub-Catchment Partnership, which make the River Don a failing water body under the terms of a rating given by the Environment Agency.
Under European directives, all rivers must attain a ‘good’ standards rating by 2025.