Water company to share millions of litres of water with local farmers to protect crop yields.
Anglian Water will be sharing its allocated water resources from the River Nene with nearby farmers to enable them to take extra water for their crops, as recent dry weather continues.
In the coming weeks, the water company will reduce abstraction from the river to allow downstream irrigators to take more water. Anglian will then make that water up when there are additional flows in the river.
The water company is in the process of finalising an agreement with the Environment Agency and local drainage board meaning they will take less water from the river to use for drinking water, which in turn will allow local farmers to use more water to irrigate their crops. The exchange was first trialled after last year’s summer heat wave, with great success.
20 million litres of water a day – equivalent to the domestic use of 150,000 customers - will be available for local farmers to use from the south and east of Peterborough over towards the north of Cambridge.
Hannah Stanley-Jones, Water Resources Manager for Anglian Water said: “Despite the recent dry weather, we know our water resources are secure for this year - our reservoirs are 91% full, however groundwater and river levels are lower than we would expect at this time of year.
“Known as the ‘bread basket of England’, agriculture makes up a huge part of our local economy, and water is a vital part of supporting that. It’s been drier than normal now for the last year, with only 76% of the average rainfall expected. More recently in April, we only saw 30%. We know local farmers need more water to irrigate their crops this year, which is why we’re redirecting this precious resource to areas that need it most.
This agreement comes at the same time as the Environment Agency’s latest National Drought Group meeting, where water users from across all sectors discussed their preparedness for prolonged periods of dry weather into the summer and beyond.
Hannah added: “The East of England is the driest region in the country, receiving a third less rainfall than the UK average. Looking to the future, we recognise that the impact of climate change and population growth in our region will pose a significant challenge to the water resources we have available.
“Investment now in resilient infrastructure, driving down leakage to world leading low levels, working across sectors and helping our customers save more water than ever before will make a difference to the resources we all have available for the long term, not just this summer.”