Anglian Water scheme scoops ‘Green’ construction project of the year award

13 October 2017


Water company awarded national accolade at this year’s British Construction Industry awards.

Anglian Water is celebrating as one of its largest ever water supply schemes – the Grafham Water Resilience project – was crowned Carbon Reduction Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry awards on Wednesday.


The British Construction Industry Awards recognise and reward excellence in project delivery, design, construction and, crucially, delivering outcomes for society and the environment. The awards call on the whole project team to showcase their work; from planning and design right through to construction.


The water company fought off tough competition from the South Bank Tower, the Kirkthorpe Hydropower Scheme and the University of Cambridge to claim the award.


The judges recognised the Anglian Water and their alliance partners Mott MacDonald and JN Bentley for their truly innovative and ground breaking approach to carbon reduction while securing water supplies for generations to come. Anglian Water delivered the award winning scheme for £32 million less than the initial design and saved a massive 62% of carbon, equating to 26,000 tonnes – more than some companies save in a year.

Chris Newsome, Anglian Water’s Director of Asset Management, said:

“We’re extremely proud to have received such a prestigious endorsement and recognition for this groundbreaking scheme. It’s testament to the willingness of our engineers to challenge accepted wisdom and strive for better, less carbon-intensive, more cost-effective solutions that are better for our business and better for the environment.”

The story of the Grafham Resilience project began in 2010 when Anglian Water challenged itself to halve the amount of carbon generated by its construction projects by 2015. That challenge and the innovation it produced were the driving force behind the scheme, and have increased efficiency and reduced carbon and cost across the company, helping to keep bills affordable for customers.


The original plan was to build a major new pipeline to bring water down to the new service reservoir at Grafham from Wing Water Treatment Works in Rutland at a cost of around £60million, meaning the scheme would have been both carbon heavy and expensive.


Spurred on to halve carbon and reduce cost, instead the team literally went back to the drawing board. They challenged every aspect of the design and trialled innovative new approaches. A groundbreaking flow reversal trial proved it would be possible to use existing equipment to reverse the direction of flow through one of the company’s biggest water mains linking Grafham Water Treatment Works in Cambridgeshire with Hannington, near Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire in the event of an emergency power outage.


Over 200 man hours were spent planning and modelling for the trial alone. The final, alternative scheme, made possible by the trial, new ways of working, and dogged determination from the team, came in £32 million cheaper than the initial design and saved 62% – a massive 26,000 tonnes – of carbon.

Chris added:

“Grafham is a great example of how a focus on reducing capital carbon can drive innovation, increase efficiency and reduce costs across the business. The easiest thing would have been to lay another main with all the ensuing carbon and cost. This innovative approach to reusing existing equipment enabled a cheaper, lower carbon solution to be proposed. The final scheme came in millions of pounds cheaper, at half the embodied carbon than the initial scheme design, all of which helps to keep bills down for customers and ensure an uninterrupted water supply for them too. It is successes like this that helped us to beat our 2010-2015 target to cut capital carbon by 50 per cent from the 2010 baseline. We are now going further, with the desire to see a 70 per cent fall by 2030 and to become a carbon neutral company by 2050.”

The visible part of the Grafham scheme is the £28million storage reservoir, based just outside Perry. It holds 40Ml of water and would take five years to drain down if a normal tap was used. The Duke Of Edinburgh formally opened the new facility in May 2016 during a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the Grafham Water Reservoir which the Duke originally opened in 1976.