Along with Affinity Water and Cambridge Water, where appropriate, we are developing three strategic water resource options to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits beyond public water supply resilience for the region and communities they serve.
Planning for resilience
As the largest water company in England by geographic area. We serve almost seven million customers in one of the UK's fastest growing regions, projected to grow by 175,000 homes by 2025. In terms of water, our region can be characterised by low rainfall and being home to a significant proportion of wetland sites of conservation interest. We are committed to making the east of England resilient to the risks of drought and flooding while working with others to achieve significant improvement in ecological quality.
Every five years, Anglian Water is required to produce a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) setting out how it will manage water supplies over a minimum of the next 25 years. The current WRMP was published in 2019. This plan considers the key challenges we face, such as climate change, environmental protection, population growth and the risk of drought, in ensuring a resilient future supply of water for our customers.
Our 2019 WRMP prioritised a demand-management approach to ensuring a resilient supply of water. This includes measures such as installing smart meters, reducing leakage and promoting household water efficiency. However, we must also acknowledge that at some point significant new infrastructure (such as reservoirs) may be required to ensure we continue to supply enough water to meet our customers’ needs.
The scale and complexity of this potential new infrastructure means that long lead-in times would be required before it could be built. We have to be planning for these solutions ahead of time, for them to be 'construction ready' should they be needed. This forward-looking approach to uncertain requirements is referred to as adaptive planning. We are now planning for schemes that may be required for delivery between 2025 and 2035.
As part of this adaptive planning process, our 2019 WRMP identified a number of strategic solutions that could significantly increase future supply. These solutions include:
The South Lincolnshire Reservoir: a proposed new reservoir expected to be located in Lincolnshire.
The Fens Reservoir: a proposed new reservoir in the Fens either to the east or west of the Ouse Washes.
The Anglian to Affinity Transfer: a proposed new piece of infrastructure that would transfer water from the Anglian Water region to supply Affinity Water customers. The transfer would source water from a new supply to be developed in the Anglian Water region, which could be the South Lincolnshire Reservoir, the Fens Reservoir or a new source from the River Trent.
Both proposed reservoirs would also include adjacent works to treat water before it is piped to existing service reservoirs. Designs for the reservoirs will explore opportunities for them to support wider multi-sector benefits in addition to providing water supply resilience for water companies, farmers and the food industry.
To support the progression of strategic options, the Regulatory Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) has been established to help accelerate the development of new water infrastructure. It seeks to improve regulation and remove barriers to help the water sector respond to long-term water resources challenges. RAPID is comprised of representatives from Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.
Development funding is available to water companies progressing strategic solutions through RAPID. A gated process has been designed to ensure the funds are spent on time and to quality standards. Water companies exploring agreed strategic solutions need to submit deliverables at each gate to demonstrate their progress. This is in addition to any planning consents.
Gate one reports
The first stage of the RAPID gated process is gate one. At this stage, we must demonstrate each strategic solution’s progress and viability. This involves setting out plans for delivering the proposed solution, including early conceptual outline designs alongside strategies for engaging stakeholders, gaining planning permission and for procuring and operating the new infrastructure.
It is important to note that all our strategic solutions are in their early stages, with key details such as site selection and early concept designs still being progressed. Details included within the gate one reports are conceptual for the purposes of demonstrating the options are viable rather than for confirming designs and locations for development.