New £500m pipeline should keep taps flowing despite future droughts

Pipes on fields

The new pipeline will stretch from north Lincolnshire to Essex. - Credit: Anglian Water

Work is due to start this summer on a new half-billion-pound pipeline that should help to make hosepipe bans rarer in East Anglia - despite fears that global warming could bring weather changes that make water supplies more fragile.

Anglian Water is due to start building a new interconnect pipeline this summer - which should connect water supplies from the north of Lincolnshire to the Colchester area of Essex.

Pipeline map

The pipeline will run from near Scunthorpe to Colchester - Credit: Anglian Water

The £500m pipeline with about 500km of tubing is the centrepiece of a five-year project to secure water supplies by the summer of 2025.

It will stretch from Elsham near Scunthorpe to Colchester, passing near Lincoln, Peterborough, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. It will connect to existing mains water pipes bringing Norwich and Bedford into the network as well.

Preparatory work for the project started last year, and the last section is due to be completed by March 2025.

Work on laying pipe

Work on the pipeline should start this summer and be completed by March 2025. - Credit: Anglian Water

In AW's Statement of Community Involvement, it says: "This new network of interconnecting pipelines will allow us to move water more freely around the region in stages, from areas of water surplus in north Lincolnshire down to the south and east of our region, where it is less readily available.

"The new sections of pipeline will improve the flow of water around the entire East Anglia water network – increasing resilience for thousands of our customers.

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"Many areas are on a single source of water supply and this addition to our network will have benefits for all our communities and businesses."

This winter's rain means that Anglian Water should be able to ensure supplies throughout the year - but in the longer term the new pipeline will play a major role.

A spokesman for AW said: “Following the recent wet weather that we saw across the region over the last couple of months, our water supplies are in a good position with reservoirs 90% full and ground water levels higher than at this point last year.

"With the Met Office forecasting more wetter than average weather over the coming three months, we’re hoping this will provide a healthy position for us to be at when spring arrives.

“However, although our water stores are in good shape, climate change and a rapidly growing population means that future water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges we face in the East of England.

"This is why we always encourage customers to use water wisely, whatever the weather. It all adds up and the benefit of the recent wet weather can be added to further by people utilising their water conservation skills all year round.

“This year we’re starting work on our new interconnected pipeline to allow water to be moved from areas where it is more plentiful to areas of scarcity across the region.

"As a combined investment of up to £500 million it is the biggest water infrastructure programme for a generation and will greatly reduce the number of homes and businesses relying on a single water source. The work is part of a huge 25-year plan to secure future water supplies across the Anglian Water region.”

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