More people, same water supply - how will Anglian Water’s multi-million-pound investment be spent?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 August 2017
As a multi-million-pound investment programme aimed at securing future water supplies gets under way across East Anglia, Tony Wenham looks at how some of the money will be spent.
Almost half a billion pounds is being invested across Anglian Water’s territory this year, with priority spending on leakage, quality drinking water and protection against severe weather.
The investment will be paid for by average bills of £1.15 per day per household. Bills remain lower than they were four years ago – despite a 1pc rise this year and a likely inflation-linked increase next year - following Anglian Water price cuts in 2015.
With a growing population and a finite product, the investment is strategic and mandatory – and customers can find out more at the company’s H2OMG!! exhibition at The Forum in Norwich all this week.
The company’s annual report explains: “Our region has the highest population growth outside London. The number of households we supply has grown by 27pc since the privatisation of the water industry in 1989.
“By 2040, the region’s population may grow by another million people and growth is most likely in areas where supplies are most stretched, the environment is under most pressure and the risk of flooding is greatest.
“We need to facilitate sustainable growth with timely and efficient delivery of infrastructure and services.”
At the same time, Anglian Water concedes that customer expectations have rocketed in recent years, accelerated partly by the internet, as customers compare suppliers’ services.
“They expect us to cope with [supply] challenges, while ensuring that bills remain affordable and that the costs of increasing our resilience are shared fairly between current and future customers,” says the annual report.
“We will need to invest in both new supplies and innovative approaches to demand management.”
Over the coming year, for example, around 540bn litres of water will be treated in the region and supplied to customers to be made into cups of tea, used in washing machines, for flushing toilets, and to keep business and industry working.
It is then taken away and treated before being returned safely to the environment.
This operation vast, often unseen, also contributes to the regional economy, creating or securing thousands of jobs each year.
Another example of a big ticket project is the Heigham water treatment works in Norwich, where £36m is being invested to secure supplies for a growing city and to protect the environment along the River Wensum.
Every day, Anglian Water supplies millions of litres of water from the River Wensum to its 100,000 customers and businesses that rely on it in and around Norwich.
When work is completed next year, a state of the art filtration system - the largest of its kind in Europe - will have been installed at the site.
The investment will mean Anglian Water can take water from Heigham, alleviate pressure on the water environmentally important removal point in Costessey and treat the water to required standards.
Modifications to underground pipework will link up the new parts of the system. New buildings to house the new machinery and equipment will be constructed at the existing Heigham water treatment works.
An Anglian Water spokesman said: “Norfolk is expected to be home to more than one million people by 2034, many of whom will choose to live in Norwich – one of the UK’s fastest growing cities.
“This, combined with being in one of the driest counties in the UK, means investment is required to ensure there is a ready supply of water for people’s daily lives and to power the economy.
“It’s essential there’s enough to go around, but we also care for the environment and want to ensure we’re protecting it.”
The spokesman added: “We’re planning decades into the future with this investment, to make sure Norwich’s water supplies are secure for years to come.
“Although, fundamentally, there is still the same finite volume of water to go around the Wensum and other rivers of Norfolk, we’ll be preventing any extra stress on the ecosystem in the river in future.”
Meanwhile, across the region, some of this year’s £425mn investment includes:
• £17m on repairing leaks in addition to the £1m spent day-to-day keeping leakage levels at industry-leading lows.
• £48m on maintaining, refurbishing and renewing parts of the 37,000km water pipe network.
• £15m keeping sewers clear of fatbergs and wipes.
• £10m to adopt and refurbish private pumping stations that are now AW’s responsibility.
Anglian Water, the region’s main supplier, is staging a week-long exhibition at The Forum in Norwich, which started yesterday.
H2OMG!! is a showcase for the company’s work in maximising the efficient use of water, an opportunity for the public to see how we can all help to safeguard supplies, and a chance to have a say in how we feel about Anglian Water’s service and how it should spend our hard earned bill money in future.
Anglian Water’s Carolyn Cooksey explained: “We are in Norwich this week to have conversations with customers about how they want their bill money to be spent. We’re looking to understand their priorities to determine what steps we must take to address the future.
“Simultaneously, we need to deliver great service for customers and keep it affordable for everybody. That’s a big challenge and that’s why we’re approaching this consultation in a very different, fun way, and we’d encourage people to come down and have their say.”
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