Anglian Water to share resources to help local farmers and nature reserve

05 July 2022


Anglian Water has begun sharing its allocated water resources from the River Nene with nearby farmers to enable them to take extra water for their crops, as well as helping maintain levels in the RSPB Lower Nene washes, as recent dry weather continues.

The water company will reduce abstraction from the river to allow downstream irrigators to take the water. Anglian will then make that water up when there are additional flows in the river.

The water company has finalised an agreement with the Environment Agency, Middle Level Commissioners and the North Level Internal Drainage Board (IDB) 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 and maintain levels for wildlife in the lower Nene washes. The exchange was first trialled in 2018, with great success and the Lower Nene partnership has been meeting every summer season since, reviewing the needs of downstream users.

25 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 to the north of Cambridge

Sarah Underhill, Regional 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 river levels are lower than we would expect at this time of year.

“Agriculture makes up a huge part of our local economy, as the ‘bread basket of England’ and water is a vital part of supporting that. It’s been a drier than normal start to the year, with only 85% of the average rainfall expected over the last 6 months.  More recently in April, we only saw 30% of the Long-term Average rainfall. We know local farmers need more water to irrigate their crops, which is why we’re redirecting this precious resource to areas that need it most. 

Sarah added: “The East of England is the driest region in the country, receiving a third less rainfall than anyone else in the UK. 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, 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 the summer.”