First phase of public consultation begins on 12 October.
Anglian Water has confirmed today the proposed location for a new reservoir in the Cambridgeshire Fens situated north of Chatteris near the villages of Doddington and Wimblington.
The reservoir will supply enough water for around a quarter of a million homes, as well as protecting the environment by enabling a reduction in the amount of water taken from rivers and underground aquifers elsewhere in the region. It will also create a new visitor destination, creating new jobs, and wider economic, environmental, leisure and health benefits for the local community.
The reservoir is being developed in partnership with Cambridge Water and a formal public consultation period will begin on Wednesday (12 October).
The announcement comes after one of the driest summers on record, comparable to 1976. This saw many water companies implementing hosepipe bans to conserve water supplies. Anglian Water was able to avoid implementing a hosepipe ban for its customers because of the significant investment it has put into reducing leakage, increasing metering and adding resilience to the water supply system over many decades, despite operating in a region that is the driest in the country, and one of the fastest growing.
The project forms part of both Anglian’s and Cambridge Water’s long term Water Resources Management Plans and is linked to the wider regional plans led by Water Resources East. These plans look 25 years ahead, with the objective of ensuring the region is resilient to more frequent episodes of drought brought on by climate change, all while improving environmental protection.
Dr Geoff Darch, Water Resources Strategy Manager for Anglian Water said: “This project will build on decades of existing investment in resilient infrastructure – like a 400km strategic pipeline which will move water from the north to the south and east of the region, existing networks of reservoirs and water storage, as well as continuing to help customers to reduce demand and driving down leakage to world leading low levels. But we know, that to keep taps running in the future, we’ll need more water storage in our region, in the form of new reservoirs.”
After detailed work between Anglian Water working in partnership with Cambridge Water, the findings of a detailed site selection study will be shared as part of the consultation beginning next week.
Geoff added: “Following a thorough and multi-stage site selection process, assessing a wide range of criteria, we have now identified the best performing location for a new reservoir.
“We know the effect on those impacted by our proposals including homeowners, landowners and the nearby community because we’ve already been speaking to those most directly affected. We wanted to give them the opportunity to ask us any questions about what this might mean for them, before publicising the information more widely. We are committed to working with everyone as the project develops and want to hear all views on our emerging proposals.
“The new reservoir will store more water so it’s always on tap when we need it, meeting the challenges of a changing climate and a growing population. It will mean less water is taken from sensitive sources, such as chalk streams, helping us to protect and restore the environment.
“Our vision for the project goes beyond just building a reservoir. We want to create a place where water, people and nature come together. That means creating space for wildlife, such as wetlands, alongside enabling new recreational and educational activities and natural places for people to explore. It also means creating new jobs and providing opportunities for local businesses and tourism.
“A formal consultation process will begin on 12 October, open for 10 weeks, and we encourage communities and wider stakeholders to have their say and to help shape the development of the design of the reservoir and inform the economic, social, and environmental opportunities it could create for the local area.”
Together with a panel of expert partners, the two water companies have been undertaking a wide range of assessments to identify potential locations for the reservoir. That includes considering impacts on people and communities, the needs of the environment, landscape, existing water sources, engineering requirements, flood protection and many other factors.
The initial consultation will run from 12 October until the 21 December. As part of this consultation a very early concept design for the reservoir has been provided to help stimulate thought and discussion. It shows some of the potential features they hope to include in the reservoir like wildlife areas, recreation and water sports, green infrastructure like cycleways and renewable energy, and others. This will be developed further as the project progresses taking account of feedback from the consultation.
Further information on the reservoirs and how to get involved can be found at www.fensreservoir.co.uk.