FIRMS are being targeted to tackle pollution in a stream that runs through a nature reserve into the River Wear.
Barmston Burn runs through the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s Washington Wetland Centre, and has suffered numerous pollution incidents in the last two years, causing the water to turn green.
Environment officers are to visit 150 businesses in Washington during the next few months to raise awareness of the problem, and offer advice to prevent pollution getting into surface water drains in the future.
It is thought the pollution is caused by businesses simply dumping oils, paints and solvents down surface water drains – which go straight into the burn.
Leanne McCormella, marketing manager at Washington Wetland Centre, said: “Our centre is home to rare and endangered waterbird species from around the world, as well as a diverse range of insects, amphibians, flora and unique habitats.
“The quality of the water filtering through our ponds, streams and reedbeds is obviously crucial to everything that depends on it for survival.
“We hope that this new awareness-raising campaign will help to tackle the ongoing issues that we’re having.”