Ground works have begun on site at Heigham water treatment works in Norwich as part of Anglian Water’s £36million investment in the site to keep customers’ taps running for decades to come and protect the environment at the same time.
The work will see a state of the art filtration system installed at the site which will be the largest of its kind in Europe.
Planning permission for the scheme was submitted in April 17 and some preliminary ground works, including demolition of older buildings, are now underway to make way for the new equipment. The main work will begin later this summer and is part of the half a billion pounds the water company is investing in Norfolk between 2015 and 2020. It will take until 2018 to complete the work.
Every single day Anglian Water supplies millions of litres of water from the River Wensum to the 100,000 customers and businesses that rely on it in and around Norwich.
However the city is growing. Norfolk is expected to be home to more than one million people by 2034, many of whom will choose to live in Norwich – one of the UK’s fastest growing cities. This combined with being in one of the driest counties in the UK means investment is required to ensure there is a ready supply of water for people’s daily lives and to power the economy. Anglian Water’s investment will make sure the environment does not suffer as a result of this growth and increased draw on water resources either.
Regan Harris from Anglian Water said: “Norwich is a rapidly growing, thriving city and a regional economic powerhouse. Water helps power that economy, so it’s essential there’s enough to go around but we also care for the environment and want to ensure we’re protecting it.
Historically, the Costessey Pits have been an important part of the water treatment process by providing natural storage for water from the Wensum prior to its treatment. This initial phase allows solids and sediment naturally occurring in the river to settle out from the water before it’s pumped to the Heigham water treatment works for further treatment before entering supply.
Part of the River Wensum are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation. The Costessey Pits area specifically has a rich and diverse environment that needs protecting. In the future, Anglian Water will not be able take enough water from Costessey alone to support the needs of the growing population without having a detrimental impact on the environment. To protect the environment against this, more water will need to be taken further downstream in the Wensum – nearer Heigham water treatment works itself.
Further downstream at Heigham, water flows are higher as the River Tud joins the River Wensum. These higher levels mean we can take the water we need out of the river without damaging the delicate ecosystem near Costessey. This hasn’t been possible previously because the water at this point in the river contained too much sediment to be treated without settling first.
This £36million investment will mean Anglian Water can take water from Heigham, alleviate pressure on the water environmentally important removal point in Costessey and treat the water to the exceptional standards required
The money will pay for a state-of-the-art water filtering system at Heigham to give an enhanced treatment processes that can deal with the level of sediment in the water near Heigham.
“We’re planning decades into the future with this investment, to make sure Norwich’s water supplies are secure for years to come,” Regan continued. “Although fundamentally there is still the same finite volume of water to go around the Wensum and other rivers of Norfolk, we’ll be preventing any extra stress on the ecosystem in the river in future.”
Finally, various modifications to underground pipework will link up the new parts of the system. New buildings to house the new machinery and equipment will be constructed at the existing Heigham water treatment works.
The plans were unveiled to the public last December at a drop-in session at the site on Waterworks Lane to explain to local residents why the work is so important.
Although all construction work will take place on the existing Heigham site, the new building does require planning permission. From the road though, the Heigham site will hardly look any different to passers by.
Regan Harris continued: “We want to be good neighbours which is why it’s been important to give people early notice of this scheme. Now the planning permission has been granted, we will be keeping customers up-to-date on the rest of the work , and of course we will be looking to minimise disruption throughout.”