Anglian Water unveils £800m treatment wetlands investment plan
- Credit: Archant
Treatment wetlands clean water naturally and provide valuable habitat for wildlife, says company.
Our region is home to some of the most wonderful wildlife, and at Anglian Water, we want to make sure that their habitats and environments are not only protected, but improved and allowed to thrive in an increasingly harsh global climate.
We already protect important habitats and species at 47 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) across our region, and as part of our business plan from 2020, our promise is to do even more. We’re proposing £800 million worth of environmental investment as part of our plans. This investment is more than double that of the previous five years and will help to protect and enhance the region’s environment.
This proposed investment still needs to be approved by our industry regulator, Ofwat, as part of our wider business plan which totals £6.5 billion for the whole region between 2020 and 2025.
But the proof is in the pudding. Earlier this year, we unveiled our very first treatment wetland site which signalled the start of our future environmental intentions. If we are successful with our plan, as many as 59 new treatment wetlands could be built in the next few years.
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What is a treatment wetland?
A wetland treatment site is a series of interconnected ponds which work as amazing natural habitats with a practical purpose. Primarily as a water company, we’re using them to further clean used but treated water before returning it to the environment. But they have many added benefits, like supporting the lifecycle of a wide range of animals and serving as ecological nurseries for many species.
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Our first treatment wetland in west Norfolk has been a huge success so far in aiding the water filtration process and providing a thriving habitat for our wildlife. The site at Ingoldisthorpe is the first of its kind in England to be developed by a water company, and has been created in partnership with the Norfolk Rivers Trust.
The wetland acts a natural filtering process for millions of litres of water a day. Water passes through the wetland and is filtered and cleaned by the plants before being returned to the river. This helps to improve the quality of water being returned to the river even further and does so in a completely natural way.
“It removes the unwanted chemicals naturally, and creates a wildlife-rich environment,” said Chris Gerrard, Anglian Water’s natural catchment and biodiversity manager.
“Ingoldisthorpe is proof that this is a great thing to do. We’re confident that the wetland will work well in other areas too, which is why our business plan contains proposals for more sites like this in the future.”
In addition to removing ammonia and phosphorus, we will be monitoring the wetland to see if it removes nutrients such as nitrates and other substances such as metals and microplastics from the water process.
We’re really keen to get the green light to take our investment forward and roll wetlands out as part of our continued environmental work, which aims to help protect our region’s wonderful environment for generations to come.