Anglian Water invests nearly £10 million to prevent flooding, protect the environment and support local growth in Watton

24 July 2023


Anglian Water is due to invest almost £10 million in improvements to Watton’s local environment this year, building resilience against a rapidly changing climate.


The programme of improvements specifically aims to increase resilience across the East of England, which is likely to see the impacts of the climate emergency – like drought and flooding – more keenly than anywhere else in the UK. The drains and sewers in the local community take water away to Watton WRC, where it’s cleaned before being returned safely to the local environment. In extreme weather with lots of rainfall, the sewer network and WRC can get quickly overwhelmed, which can cause flooding.


Work has already taken place at the company’s water recycling centre (WRC) off Brandon Road, installing brand new equipment – which includes a new storm tank - to reduce the risk of pollution in the local community and environment.


The scheme marked an investment of more than £850,000, as part of a larger programme of work to increase storm water storage across the East of England, with overall investment in the programme totalling more than £100 million.


The additional storm water storage across the region will help to capture and redirect more than 72.5 million litres of rainwater – equivalent to 29 Olympic sized swimming pools – to help protect the environment during heavy rainfall.


The new storm tank at Watton is able to capture an additional 568,000 litres of storm water during extreme weather and flooding, so it can then be treated before being returned to the nearby water courses. This builds resilience to extreme weather caused by climate change and protecting the environment by helping to reduce the use of storm overflows, providing additional protection for rivers, many of which in the East of England are unique chalk stream habitats.


The water company is also due to install a sustainable urban drainage system (SuDS) in the coming months, to aid natural drainage and reduce the risk of flooding. SuDS can also provide a wealth of benefits including increased biodiversity, community engagement and resilience to climate change.


When it rains, water pours off hard surfaces like roofs, roads, car parks and playgrounds and into sewers. By introducing green areas and permeable surfaces, like raingardens, planters and tree bowls, the risk of flooding can be reduced. This scheme in Watton, which is worth more than £600,000, will help slow down the speed at which rainwater enters sewers, as well as adding to the local biodiversity.


The company will also be investing more than £2 million on a project to increase the local network’s capacity to accommodate new housing. This scheme, which is due to start later this year and should take around six months to complete, will see a new pipeline installed in Watton to increase local drainage capacity.


The investments at Watton form part of the company’s Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), a programme of environmental investment which is taking place between 2020-2025.


Anglian’s WINEP totals over £800 million of work which is specifically targeted at protecting the environment and improving river water quality. It is the largest WINEP plan of any water company, with double the number of commitments made and delivered in the previous five-year period.


Claire Hickey, Regional Treatment Manager, said: “We know how important rivers and the wider environment are to our customers and local communities in Watton. We’re really pleased that these schemes will help to increase our resilience to climate change, by preventing flooding and helping us make sure the wastewater is treated to an even higher standard than usual before it’s returned to your rivers.


“As a result of climate change, we’re seeing more bouts of extreme weather, sudden downpours and rising sea levels, so it’s really important that our infrastructure is ready to process higher volumes of stormwater and protect the environment. That’s why we’ve committed through our Get River Positive programme that our water recycling processes will not harm rivers, with schemes like these in Watton.”


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.