By the time it’s finished, it’ll stretch further than the UK’s longest motorway and be one of the biggest infrastructure projects since the railway came to Norfolk. But you won’t even be able to see it.


Anglian Water is building hundreds of miles of pipeline from north Lincolnshire to Norfolk, and other parts of the east, to bolster supplies and help avoid droughts.

It will pipe 265m litres a day from Elsham, near the River Humber, to Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester, via Lincoln, Grantham, Peterborough, Downham Market and Bury St Edmund’s.

Anglian water has just been given planning permission for the 45-mile Downham to Bury stretch and expects to start work soon.

Parts of the route to the north and west have already been completed, while the entire network is expected to be finished by 2025.

The mammoth project, costing £500m, is part of  the water company’s Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP).

It looks 25 years ahead to make the region resilient to extreme weather challenges as a result of climate change.

The company says the need for the pipeline was highlighted by last summer’s drought.

Without taking any action, the east of England would face a water deficit of 30m litres – more than 4,000 Olympic swimming pools – a day by 2025. Another drought is already being predicted this summer.

Once complete, the new network of interconnecting pipelines will move water from wetter to drier areas of the eastern region to stave off water shortages for more than 4m customers.

The project is the biggest in Anglian Water’s 35-year history and one of the UK’s largest construction projects. Consumers will be footing the cost via their water bills.

Rob Slade, the firm’s head of strategic supply integration, said: “Last summer’s unprecedented heatwave highlighted the need for investment in this kind of work.

“Despite being declared in drought by the Environment Agency in August, we were one of just a handful of water companies to not need to impose a hosepipe ban, thanks to years of investment in projects like this, to protect the region’s public water supplies.

The east of England is one of the driest regions in the UK and has a rapidly growing population, which is why we’ve spent many years developing and implementing our plans to combat water shortages and increase resilience.

“Simply put, without the new water main grid, demand for water will outstrip supply and parts of the east of England could run out of water as soon as 2030. The importance of our work really cannot be underestimated.”

The company says it is committed to leaving “a long-lasting green and social legacy” along the route of the pipeline, which with its different branches will be longer than the 232-mile length of the M6, our longest motorway.

Sections of the 900mm pipe will be laid in open trenches, with burrowing techniques used where it crosses roads or railway lines to avoid disruption.

Once completed it will be buried at least a metre below ground level and the land it flows through will be restored to maintain its “recreational and environmental value”, completely concealing it.

Thousands of trees are expected to be planted and new areas of grassland created along the route, as well as special ‘commuter’ fences which help bats to navigate the countryside.

Anglian Water said it has also donated 2,000 books to primary schools along the pipeline route and donated life-saving defibrillators to communities.

Mr Slade added:

“Creating environmental and social prosperity for our region is at the heart of our business, so working to support local communities is just as important to us as keeping the taps running and protecting the environment.”

Source: Eastern Daily Press

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