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Tyne Rivers Trust > About > News > General News > HOW TO MEASURE FLOW IN YOUR LOCAL BURN


Tyne Rivers Trust is calling on the public to help gauge the extent of the current drought by measuring the flow in their local burn.

The Trust which looks after the Tyne Catchment says that data collected now can help to form a picture of the river system and how it is affected during a drought. For example, measurements which were taken in the 1976 drought proved how beneficial in-tact peatlands are to support low flows.

The flow of main rivers like the Tyne and Derwent are measured by the Environment Agency but it is the small tributaries and burns that the Trust is calling on the public to help with.

Professor Malcom Newson, Interim Director at Tyne Rivers Trust says: “We’re encouraging people do something positive for their local bit of river during a period of drought which has a negative effect on the overall health of our river system.

How to measure flow in your local stream/burn

  1. You will need a container which you know the volume of eg. A 10 litre bucket or a 20 litre trug.


  1. Find a safe and easily accessible spot to get in the burn and look for a flow where the water becomes a single jet or where there is a drop i.e at the top of a mini waterfall, culvert or drain


  1. If you can’t find a single jet, create your own by diverting the flow with stones and moss to create a single jet


  1. Time the seconds it takes for the single jet to fill your container, this will give you a litres per second value


  1. Email this value along with a six figure grid reference ( to under the heading Flow measure.

How does a drought affect the Tyne Catchment

Low river flows mean high river temperatures and much less dilution for pollution. The combination of river temperatures above 20C and a bigger ‘load’ of pollution from septic tanks and rural Sewage Treatment Works produces both a direct toxic impact on fish and increased susceptibility to disease.


Lastly, raised air temperatures may encourage more invasive species of plants and animals – so we would encourage people to watch out for the spread of existing invasives like Balsam on to normally wetted areas, or the arrival of new ones.

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