Volunteers for a new pollution watchdog scheme will qualify for money off their water bills - by strolling along their local rivers, streams, becks, burns and bathing waters.
Northumbrian Water is launching an initiative to encourage people to help protect and improve water quality in their local waterways.
Volunteers, over the age of 18, are being sought to sign up to the water company’s Water Rangers scheme which will involve them walking along public access routes next to watercourses, once a week or once a fortnight.
There are 32 routes to choose from, which are between 210 metres and 1.2 kilometres long.
After their walk, rangers will report on the condition of the waterway within their route, so that any potential pollution can be dealt with quickly.
Those who sign up will receive a refund on water bills. Depending on how frequently they carry out their walks, this could be up to £200 a year.
There will also be training and an annual celebration dinner for rangers.
One of the first volunteers is Den Lilley, 71, lives in Newton Hall, Durham.
Mr Lilley, who is chairman of Durham City Angling Club, said: “I thoroughly enjoy bird watching and fishing so it’s great to be able to give something back to help look after the environment which gives me so much pleasure.
“Having clean water in the River Wear is vital for our fishermen to be able to enjoy their sport and also to the club to ensure we maintain and attract new members.
“The Water Rangers scheme reflects the effort that Northumbrian Water is putting into being able to react and deal with pollution quickly.
“I think it is very admirable. and I am looking forward to doing my walks.”
These areas have been chosen as they have watercourses in their catchment areas which are prone to pollution.
Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, Richard Warneford, said: “We appreciate the significant impact that the quality of watercourses and bathing waters has on the ecological system, tourism, economy and recreational activities within our region.
“Our Water Rangers scheme reflects our commitment to looking after the environment and this initiative is a creative, healthy and fun way to encourage our customers and local communities to help us to do this.
“We monitor our sewer network very closely by using technology and manual inspections and we are continually maintaining and upgrading the network.
“Northumbrian Water’s supply area is vast – we cover a geographical area of 9,422 square kilometres and we monitor and look after thousands of assets, including more than 29,500 kilometres of sewer pipe.
“Pollution from our assets is something we are taking very seriously and working very hard to tackle.
“The Water Rangers scheme will provide us with further information and knowledge to help us do this. “