'Import' initiative for water group

ANGLIAN Water has unveiled proposals to import huge quantities of water from the River Trent to meet rising demand.

ANGLIAN Water has unveiled proposals to import huge quantities of water from the River Trent to meet rising demand.

The water company predicts the number of households will grow from 1.8million to 2.3million by 2016 and that at this level of growth it will need to import water in the future.

While the Grafham Water reservoir and pumping from Fen waterways keep the east self-sufficient, it is predicted it will need 200million litres a day more if it grows as much as is thought.

A major plan being looked at to take water from the River Trent in the winter and direct it along existing river and drain channels to Boston in Lincolnshire.

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From there it could be pumped to areas of growth in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex and the A14 corridor.

“We are looking at some long-term water resource plans,” said Mike Cook, manager of water resources at Anglian Water.

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The company's current planning horizon is 2032, and over the next 18 months to two years, it will be putting together detailed options, including costings, engineering and environmental work.

According to present predictions, homes will be built at an approximate rate of around 40,000 a year in the area Anglian Water supplies, he said.

“What we have got to work out is do we have enough water to supply them,” he said. “This is Anglian Water preparing ourselves to meet this additional demand.

“What we don't have in East Anglia is any additional water sources to develop because the Environment Agency who control all abstraction have said the existing water sources are committed.”

The company is also looking at other local options for areas such as Ipswich which may prove cost-effective.

One of these involves storing water underground in natural aquifers or waterways, which run from north Norfolk and Lincolnshire through to Suffolk and Essex to the Thames, then treating and using it as required.

“We can be as smart as we like, but we have still got to get water into the reservoirs if we go down the route of development reservoirs,” he said.

“There are other options we can look at for places such as Ipswich because the Trent option really is to bring water down into the Fenland area.”

He described the aquifer option as “a form of water banking”, but pointed out there were potential issues, such as how the water would be affected by the different environmental conditions underground.

“We are looking at all these different options. These will go into our five year water resources plan which we have to submit to Ofwat and DEFRA,” he said.

The option of taking water down from the River Trent would probably take around 10 to 15 years to engineer, while the local underwater banking systems would take around five to 10 years to develop, he said.

“All we are doing at the moment is scoping out the work, so we have not looked at the costs at all. Over the next 18 months we start looking at the detail,” he said.

Meanwhile, they were continuing with demand management through reducing leakages, increasing metering and persuading consumers to reduce their water use, he said.

“But there is going to be significant growth, and we have got to meet that growth,” he said.

They had not costed any of the proposals yet, but any big engineering scheme would inevitably cost a “significant amount”, he said.

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