New dredging methods trialled on Somerset's River Parrett
Two new dredging methods - designed to stir up river silt so it gets carried downstream - are being trialled in Somerset to try to save money.
About £6m was spent dredging some 8km (five miles) of the rivers Parrett and Tone in 2014.
One method involves blasting water near the riverbed to stir up silt while the other sucks it up into the river flow.
Trials between Westonzoyland Pumping Station and Burrowbridge will be carried out over the next three weeks.
'Cheaper more effective'
The Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) said both techniques relied on a strong outgoing tide to carry the silt away.
But the authority hopes that either water injection dredging or agitation dredging will be cheaper and better ways to maintain tidal rivers.
Councillor John Osman, SRA chairman, said: "This is the first time that such trials have been done on the Parrett in conjunction with a long-term programme of detailed monitoring.
"Potentially, new methods offer Somerset big benefits: done at the right times, in the right places, they could be much cheaper, more effective, and better for the environment, local residents and farmers."
The trials will be carried out by Parrett Internal Drainage Board and Dutch contractors Van Oord.