Work on massive water pipeline from North to East begins

A pipe is laid in Lincolnshire as work begins on Anglian Water's water pipeline to East Anglia

Work begins on Anglian Water's huge water pipeline from the North to the East - Credit: Tim George

The first giant water pipes in a vast network linking the “wet” north with the “dry” lowlands of the East of England have been laid.

Utility company Anglian Water said the aim was to avoid a huge water deficit of millions of litres a day as homes spring up across the eastern region.

The pipeline will be longer than the HS2 rail link and will address an estimated 30m litre a day water shortage faced in the East by 2025.

Anglian Water broke ground on the largest drinking water grid project in a generation on June 24 as the first pipes were laid in Lincolnshire. Pipes will run from Scunthorpe to Peterborough and east into Bexwell then Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich.

Phases of the Anglian Water pipeline project from the North to the East of England

A map charting the course of Anglian Water's giant water pipeline project from Scunthorpe to Ipswich and beyond - Credit: Anglian Water

Eventually, Anglian Water’s Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) will create up to 500km of interconnecting pipelines stretching to areas of Norwich, Ipswich and beyond helping to build resilience for areas which have relied on a single water source.


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Anglian Water boss Peter Simpson said the SPA programme will ensure the company can keep the taps running for customers without a detrimental effect on the environment.

“Two years ago, Sir James Bevan, chair of the Environment Agency, spoke of the ‘jaws of death’ for water supply — the point at which, unless we took action to change things, there would not be enough water available to meet our needs in 25 years.

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“The reality is even more stark in the East of England. We operate in the driest part of the country, and receive a third less rainfall than anywhere else in the UK, but are also one of the fastest growing regions, with 175,000 new homes to be built in the next five years.  Without action we will face a water deficit of millions of litres a day within the next five years – let alone 25 years.”

The company was also committed to driving down leakage to “world-leading low levels”, he said, as well as managing water demand through installing 1.1m smart meters by 2025.

Engineers will be using a pipelaying process not used before in the UK which enables pipes to be laid to a food grade standard of hygiene and disinfected using a vastly reduced amount of water than in traditional mains laying.

On part of the pipe route a pipe plough will be used which employs a blade to cut through the earth to create a trench and lays the pipe within it without the need for digging or refilling.

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