An original watercourse to protect the environment, enhance habitats and attract rare species to the River Itchen, has been restored by Southern Water near its headquarters in Otterbourne.

The project involved dredging a stream, which had become blocked and overgrown, to restore the water flow into part of the Itchen. A second channel, to provide extra capacity in high flows, was also restored and a weir installed, to reduce the risk of flooding surrounding land.

Historically, the area was part of a traditional water-meadow system. Each year, the land would be flooded to add water and nutrients to the soil, making the grass lush and green and good food for grazing cattle.

However, with this practice no longer taking place, the original streams became blocked with sediment and overgrown.

Southern Water says the restoration of the streams will provide an ideal habitat for wildlife and could encourage rare species, including the southern damsel fly, to take up residence in the area of the Itchen Valley, a stronghold for the beautiful insect.

In addition, the streams will help to stop water from the river covering the surrounding land and alleviate the risk of flooding the sewerage system. The project will also help safeguard underground water sources at Otterbourne.

Mike Barker, the water company's environment team manager, said: "This project has a number of benefits and should greatly improve the environment. We hope that the area will become a thriving habitat for all kinds of interesting aquatic life."