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Anglian Water plans 70km water pipeline to bring water into dry East of England region



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Anglian Water has unveiled plans for an enormous 70km pipeline to address a 30 million litre-a-day water shortage in the East of England.

It will move drinking water in stages from the wetter north to the drier south along the Bexwell to Bury pipeline, which will be almost twice as long as the M6.

A new pipeline in Harmston, Lincolnshire. Picture: Tim George / Anglian Water
A new pipeline in Harmston, Lincolnshire. Picture: Tim George / Anglian Water

Five new pumping stations and three new water storage tanks are envisaged in the plans submitted to East Cambridgeshire, West Suffolk, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk councils. If approved, work could begin in 2022.

James Crompton, strategic pipeline alliance director for Anglian Water, said: “The strategic pipeline is vital in addressing the predicted future imbalance where demand for water greatly outstrips the available resources in the East of England.

“It is the most fundamental challenge Anglian Water faces in its region, due to the combined impact of a rapidly growing population, climate change and being located in the most water-scarce part of the UK.

Anglian Water’s pipeline map
Anglian Water’s pipeline map

“With 175,000 new homes to be built in the next five years, it is vital we ensure we have resilient infrastructure in place to support local authorities in delivering their Local Plans. We look forward to working with all of the local councils on developing these proposals.”

Critics have long argued that water companies have been abstracting too much water from the chalk aquifer in Cambridgeshire, impacting the health of rivers like the Cam, and affecting its biodiversity. Housing growth is adding growing pressure on water resources.

Anglian Water says this project will use large diameter water mains to join up water supply across its region, protecting the driest part of the country from running out of water.

Anglian Water plans a pipeline from Bexwell to Bury St Edmunds
Anglian Water plans a pipeline from Bexwell to Bury St Edmunds

Using up to 500km of interconnecting pipelines, it will take water from wetter parts of north Lincolnshire to the south and east of the region, which will reduce the number of homes and businesses reliant on a single water source.

The water company warns that if it does not act, the East of England would face a water deficit of 30 million litres a day by 2025 – a shortfall of 4,380 Olympic swimming pools of water every year.

Anglian said it would bypass sensitive ecological sites and aimed to minimise the carbon footprint of the project, in line with its pledge to reach net zero carbon by 2030.

A new pipeline in Harmston, Lincolnshire. Picture: Tim George / Anglian Water
A new pipeline in Harmston, Lincolnshire. Picture: Tim George / Anglian Water

James said: “Our commitment to protecting the environment is as vital as securing customer supplies. This project will help meet our targets to reduce the amount of water we take from the environment by 84 million litres a day, but our infrastructure needs to be sustainable too.

“Climate change isn’t just a risk in terms of the challenges it poses us, it is also an opportunity to challenge established practice and to do things differently and more efficiently, for wider gain. This scheme is an excellent example how we’re doing both for the long-term benefit of our region.”

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