Anglian Water upgrades infrastructure in Soham to protect Soham Lode

29 November 2023


Anglian Water has finished work on a scheme to improve the water treatment processes in Soham, near Ely, in line with new Environment Agency regulations. This work – which included increased storm tank capacity and improvements to the amount of wastewater the site can process – will improve water quality in local watercourses, including the Soham Lode.

Work began in 2021 and took place entirely on site at Anglian Water’s water recycling centre (WRC) off Broad Piece in Soham.

The two improvement schemes marked a total investment of more than £2.6 million into water recycling processes at Soham WRC. Work included an upgraded storm tank and new technology to remove new equipment to strengthen the current water recycling process by allowing the site to process higher volumes of wastewater.

The water company modified existing equipment so Soham WRC can process higher volumes of wastewater. With high population growth in the area, as well as increased surface water drainage, it is vital that the site is able to keep up with increased flows. The investment scheme has increased the amount of water the site can process by 11.8 litres per second, preventing flooding on site and improving the site’s resilience to future increased flows as a result of climate change and population growth.

On top of processing increased volumes, the site can also now hold additional storm water to prevent discharges of untreated effluent. The new storm storage at Soham has nearly doubled the site’s capacity, allowing twice as much 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 storm tank upgrade on site is part of a larger programme of work totalling over £100 million, to increase storm water storage across the East of England. The additional storm water storage 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. 

These upgrades specifically aim 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 schemes 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.

Regan Harris, a spokesperson for Anglian Water, said: “We know how important rivers and the wider environment are to our customers and local communities. We’re really pleased that this scheme will help to protect nearby rivers 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.

“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 sites are prepared 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 this one in Soham.”

Get River Positive was launched by Anglian Water and Severn Trent earlier this 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.

This project was 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.