The reservoir is a key part of the water supply network in North East England (which is owned and managed by Northumbrian Water) as it is the principal water source for the Tyne and Wear metropolitan area.
The flow of the River Derwent can be supplemented, when necessary, by a pipeline from the much larger Kielder Reservoir in Northumberland. However this cannot top up the reservoir itself.
Sediment within the reservoir has been found to contain elevated levels of zinc, lead and cadmium. These have drained into the reservoir from areas of previous mining activity around Blanchland. Subsequently, populations of macroscopic plants in the reservoir are relatively low.
Derwent Reservoir also hosts a sailing club, clubhouse was built in 1968 which later followed a visit by Princess Anne. The sailing club holds many events throughout the year, including windsurfing, sailing, running and triathlons.
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