Anglian Water invests more than £1.4 million to protect Earl Soham’s rivers

26 January 2024


Anglian Water is due to start work upgrading its Water Recycling Centre (WRC) off Brandeston Road in Earl Soham, installing new equipment which will remove phosphorous from wastewater, improving river water quality nearby.

Phosphorous is widely used in soaps and cleaning products but can be harmful to wildlife when it reaches rivers and other watercourses. The investment at Earl Soham WRC, which is worth more than £1.4 million, includes new equipment to strengthen the current water recycling process and remove even more phosphorous from wastewater. This equipment will help remove harmful algae growth and improve water quality in local watercourses.

Work is due to start on site this month and is expected to finish by summer 2024. As the upgrades are taking place on site at the WRC, Anglian Water customers in the local area should not experience any disruption during the scheme.

Anglian Water’s team has used detailed modelling of the local system to design a robust engineering scheme which will help to protect local watercourses in the Woodbridge area now and in the future. This investment means the water entering the River Deben from Earl Soham WRC will be even cleaner, protecting wildlife and water quality in the river.

Through its Get River Positive programme, the water company is already investing to improve bathing water quality in the River Deben, after the river’s Waldringfield site was officially designated as bathing spot in 2023. This includes working with local river groups on citizen science testing and bacterial tracer studies.

Over the next two years, Anglian Water is set to replicate schemes like this one at Earl Soham at other water recycling centres along the river Deben, to help reduce phosphate levels in the water returned to the environment. The scheme at Earl Soham follows a similar project to remove excess phosphorous from the River Deben at Anglian Water’s Debenham WRC, worth more than £650,000, which began in September.

In October 2023, Anglian Water submitted its business plan for 2025 to 2030 to Ofwat, which would see £9 billion of investment into the East of England, including £4 billion targeted specifically at improving the region’s environment. Proposals for the Deben include nearly £34 million of investment to improve bathing waters. This includes the installation of additional disinfection from water recycling works at Woodbridge and Melton to protect the designated bathing water, and work to reduce storm spills to less than 10 per year.

Martin Bowes, Anglian Water’s Water Quality Policy and Strategy Manager, said: “We’re really pleased that these upgrades to our Water Recycling Centre in Earl Soham will help to protect the River Deben and increase our resilience to climate change, by helping us make sure the wastewater is treated to an even higher standard than usual before it’s returned to the natural environment.

“We know how important the River Deben to our customers and local communities, and we’re proud to be working alongside local river groups through our Get River Positive programme to ensure our water recycling processes will not harm it. We’re already doing lots of work here, and this scheme is just one example of a much larger programme of investment we’re hoping to deliver on the Deben between 2025 and 2030.”

Get River Positive was launched by Anglian Water and Severn Trent last year. The plan includes five pledges to transform river water quality across their regions, and demonstrates a clear and actionable response to calls for a revival of rivers in England. Central to the pledges is a commitment that work carried out by the two water companies will ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers.

One of the programme’s key ambitions is to foster a co-ordinated response to river water quality challenges alongside other organisations, including regulators, river groups, industry and agriculture. This work complements Anglian Water’s catchment management programme, which is made up of dedicated advisors who take a holistic view of river catchments. Catchment management is an eco-friendly and low-carbon method to enhance water quality at its source. By collectively addressing river and reservoir challenges, it fosters better relationships with farmers, prevents pollution, and reduces flood risks, benefiting both the economy and the environment. 

This project will be completed by Anglian Water’s @one Alliance. The @one Alliance delivers complex engineering and construction projects across the Anglian Water region, utilising the skills and expertise provided by their seven partner organisations – specialising in the world of water.