Anglian Water turns on the tap for £28m Grafham resilience scheme


ANGLIAN Water has successfully put its £28million Grafham resilience scheme into action for the first time after one of the region’s driest years.

The new scheme allows the transfer of treated drinking water between the Rutland, Grafham, and Pitsford Water Treatment Works (known collectively as the Ruthamford network).

The 16 months prior to September 2019 were one of the driest the East of England has seen in recent times.

Proving the viability of this flow reversal scheme is another major ‘piece of the puzzle’ in ensuring a resilient water supply for the west of the region.

Paul Valleley, Director of Water Services at Anglian Water, commented on the scheme: “We knew the concept of transferring potable water through this network was always feasible, but the trial entailed a significant amount of work to ensure customers water supplies were not affected or water quality compromised.

“Over the first half of this winter the trial has proven to be a complete success.

“Our reservoir at Rutland is almost full but we wanted to make the most of the extra water available to us at this time of year by moving it to support the area supplied by Grafham Water.

“Our colleagues at Affinity Water also rely on some of our water from Grafham reservoir to supply their customers, allowing them to rest their abstraction on chalk aquifers, so by using this surplus water, we’re doing all we can to bolster supplies ahead of next summer and benefitting the wider environment.”

ering element of the multi-million-pound scheme was completed in 2017 and used industry-first technology to support Grafham Water Treatment Works.

By installing specialist large-scale pumps, the company’s engineers have now completed the trial to reverse the flow of water between Grafham Water Treatment Works and Hannington, near Wellingborough through a single pipeline.

The concept of the Ruthamford network was originally developed in the mid 1970’s to accommodate the growth areas around Milton Keynes. However, with the East of England being the driest part of the UK and one of the fastest growing, this scheme provides the additional flexibility and capability to move supplies around to help Anglian to meet those challenges.

Originally, engineers planned to lay an additional 37 km pipeline linking the two areas together. However, innovative trials proved that it would be possible to reverse the direction of flow through the existing water main instead.

By using existing assets and with the addition of strategic pumping stations and a new treated water reservoir engineers not only saved over £30million but also 61 per cent (almost 27,000 tonnes) of embodied carbon, which had been originally anticipated for the scheme.

When looking in the future of the region, the company’s Resources Management Plan sets out how water supplies for the East of England will be managed over the next 25 years.

Part of this plan includes the construction of a new series of interlinking, large-scale water mains, which will join up the water network in across the region.

Mr Valleley continued: “Our plan proposes building even greater resilience for our customers.

“We’re planning a £500million scheme of interconnecting pipes to bring water from north Lincolnshire down into Ruthamford and then on to parts of west Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, allowing us to move water from areas of surplus to areas of deficit.

“This investment will provide resilience against climate change and future droughts, as well as allowing us to reduce groundwater abstraction from environmentally sensitive chalk catchments in the East of our region.

“It will be one of the largest strategic pipeline projects the UK has ever seen, ensuring we can keep taps running for years to come and tackle the challenges of a changing climate and a rapidly growing population.”