Plans for new reservoir to secure future water demand

Photo of a reservoirIn the midst of the driest eight-month period since 1976, and with the East of England only seeing a fifth of its average rainfall in July, long-term plans for a new reservoir that will secure Cambridge’s water supplies for future generations are continuing to progress.

We are working with Anglian Water to develop proposals for a new reservoir in the Fens to serve customers of both Cambridge Water and Anglian Water, as well as protecting the environment by allowing us to reduce the amount of water taken from underground aquifers.

Anglian Water has been developing plans for two reservoirs over the past ten years; one of those is in the Fens and we will be joining forces with Anglian Water to deliver the project.

Plans for the project have been developing, with the water companies ready to share the findings of a detailed site selection study in the autumn, in what will be the first of a multi-phase consultation on the proposals.

The news comes at a time when public awareness of water scarcity has never been higher. This summer’s heatwave is keenly illustrating the need for investment in more water storage, while a changing climate, the need to protect the environment and population growth are combining to increase demands on water resources in a way that is felt more keenly in the East of England than any other part of the UK.

“We’re really pleased to be joining forces with Anglian Water on the Fens Reservoir project.

“Cambridge has a growing population, and with climate change likely to cause more frequent droughts in the future, there is increased stress on our water supply.

“All of our water currently comes from the aquifers, which can put pressure on the environment, particularly the rare chalk stream habitats that are a unique feature in this part of England. The new reservoir in the Fens will have a huge impact by collecting and storing water, when it is plentiful in the winter periods, and help use our aquifers in a more sustainable way, protecting our precious chalk streams.

“The reservoir will have added benefits, not only storing and supplying water but also providing new habitats for wildlife, a new place for people to visit and enjoy, economic investment for communities.”

Natalie Akroyd, 
Head of Water Strategy and Environment,
Cambridge Water

“We’re at a very early stage in the planning process and have been carrying out detailed technical work to help identify the best locations for the proposed reservoirs. We plan to share where we have reached with this work in autumn when we will be launching the first phase of consultation on our proposals.

“This will include the proposed locations, and our assessment of what we will need to do to deliver them responsibly by minimising any impacts on the environment and local communities. This will provide the opportunity for local people to feed back before we develop our plans further. We anticipate this will be the first of three phases of consultation.

“Before the first phase of consultation commences, to help people understand why the reservoirs are needed and what they will deliver, we have updated our website with more information about these projects which we are developing in partnership with Cambridge Water and Affinity Water.”

“Although we’ve recognised the need for and have already been planning these projects for a number of years, they are still at an early stage, as it’s a long and detailed planning process. The designs will be developed over a number of years with opportunities for communities to have their say and shape how the reservoirs are designed. Construction of the new reservoirs could begin by 2030 with the hope that they would start supplying water to customer taps by the mid to late 2030s.”

Hannah Stanley-Jones,
Head of Future Resources Strategy,
Anglian Water

“Both the Fens and Lincolnshire Reservoirs are critical to the region’s future prosperity and environmental health as the changing climate makes existing water resources less reliable. Eastern England needs to make the most of the rain that does fall in our river catchments, the driest part of the country. That means significantly more water storage is urgently needed.

“What’s particularly exciting about these two reservoir projects is the huge potential for both to deliver much wider benefits for agriculture, for local communities and the regional economy. And there is a real appetite and ambition amongst local partners to make this happen. Water Resources East is proud to play its part in supporting this process, and I’m delighted to see the opportunities that both these projects bring beginning to be brought to life.”

Daniel Johns,
Managing Director,
Water Resources East and Chair of the South Lincs Water Partnership and Fens Water Partnership.

Ahead of sharing the detailed work that has been undertaken to assess the best performing locations for the proposed reservoirs, all landowners and residents who may be impacted by these proposals will be contacted. A ten-week public consultation will follow for people to review the proposals and provide comments.

Feedback will be sought on all aspects of the proposed reservoirs over a multi-phase consultation, including the proposed areas within which the reservoirs could be located, the infrastructure connected to it, the short term and temporary impacts of the construction process, and all matters regarding the environment. There will be multiple opportunities over the coming years for people to feed back as the proposals continue to take shape.

Further information on the autumn consultation and details of how to take part will follow later in the year.

More information

Find out more about the new Fens Reservoir.

Posted: 18 August 2022