A LAKELAND reservoir that supplied drinking water for nearly a hundred years is to be returned to its natural state.

Engineers are gearing up to remove Hayeswater's dam to restore it as a mountain tarn.

The reservoir, near Glenridding, has been declared surplus to requirements by its owner United Utilities. It has not be used as a public drinking supply for nearly ten years.

Engineers plan to start lowering its water level towards the end of May, ready for a four-month restoration scheme starting in June.

A public exhibition about the work is being held next Monday (April 7) at Glenridding Public Hall so people can find out more and ask questions. All are welcome to drop in any time between 12pm and 7pm to meet members of the project team.

The £700,000 project will include the removal of the 106-year-old concrete and stone weir dam, recreating the flow of the original tarn’s natural river outflow into Hayeswater Gill and a new footbridge along the route of a public footpath.

It has been very closely planned with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Lake District National Park Authority, who are overseeing the building of the new footbridge. A bridge will be available for walkers for the duration of the project.

Project manager Tony Elliott said ever since 2005 people living in communities north of Ullswater had received their tap water from the company’s huge Haweswater reservoir via a pipeline, instead of from Hayeswater.

Haweswater – the region’s biggest reservoir – supplies about a quarter of all the drinking water in the North West and contains around 250 times the available water of its little neighbour.

“Hayeswater is also very difficult to get to. Removing the weir dam will allow wildlife like eels to migrate in and out of the restored tarn, which will be about two metres lower than the reservoir is at the moment. Our work shouldn’t really cause any major disruption, although walkers on High Street will get a great bird’s eye view of the construction work and may wonder what’s happening for a short while,” he said.

Steps will be taken to protect wildlife and the environment while work is underway, including Hayeswater’s population of brown trout.