APPENDIX 9: NOTE OF THE VISIT TO ESSEX
AND SUFFOLK WATER AND ANGLIAN WATER |
Friday 10 February 2006
1. Members visiting Essex and Suffolk Water and Anglian
Water were Lord Lewis of Newnham, Baroness Perry of Southwark,
Baroness Platt of Writtle, the Earl of Selborne (Chairman), Baroness
Sharp of Guildford, Lord Taverne and Lord Whitty. In attendance
were Tom Wilson (Clerk) and Professor Richard Ashley (Specialist
2. The Committee was welcomed to Essex and Suffolk
Water's offices at Hanningfield water treatment works by Martin
Lunn (Scientific and Water Resources Manager, Essex and Suffolk
Water) and Dave Harker (Water Resources and Licensing Manager,
Anglian Water Services). Also present was Graham Wilson, Strategic
Planning Manager at the Environment Agency.
3. Mr Harker opened by explaining that the Anglian
region was the driest region in the UK, receiving only half the
national average rainfall each year. Therefore, water had to be
transferred over long distances and, because the terrain was relatively
flat, this led to high pumping costs. The increase in the volume
of water supplied, though, had been successfully addressed since
the late 1980s through leakage controlmost importantlyand
the promotion of metering and water efficiency measures. There
had also been a gradual reduction in industrial demand.
4. However, the projected population growth in the
Anglian region and the threat of climate change presented ongoing
challenges. These might be addressed in a number of ways. For
example, there was significant potential for a greater level of
water efficiency in homes but there was currently no way of securing
this change; it was felt that the building regulations should
be toughened accordingly by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
It was also important for water and wastewater infrastructure
to "lead" development so that water issues were given
due consideration at the earliest stages of planningparticularly
in the proposed "growth areas".
5. Another issue was the proposed sustainability
reductions in water abstraction under the Habitats Directive.
There was concern about the use of the precautionary principle
in the Review of Consents by the Environment Agency, with the
burden being on the abstractors to prove that their abstractions
do not adversely impact upon the Natura 2000 sites. However, Mr
Wilson did note that each site had its own research project and
that the review was taking place on a site-by-site basis, so decisions
would not be taken merely on the basis of generic criteria.
6. Subsequently, Mr Lunn discussed the action being
taken by the two water companies to prepare for the future. Although
he noted that initially there would be a dip in demand for water
in Essex and Suffolk Water's area, due to the amount saved from
industry closures exceeding the additional resource needed to
service the growing population, the increase in demand would soon
7. Therefore, Essex and Suffolk Water was preparing
through the so-called Abberton Trilogy scheme at a cost of £80m.
The first part of the Trilogy involved varying the Denver and
Blackdyke licences in Norfolk so as to reduce the residual flow
to the Wash. The second part involved the construction of additional
pipelines to transfer water from Norfolk to Essex. The final part
of the Trilogy involved raising the dam at Abberton Reservoir
in Essex by 3.2 metres, allowing its storage capacity to increase
by 40 percent. It was particularly notable that planning for this
scheme had commenced in 1993 yet it would not be operational until
2014/15, not least because the company had been compelled to show
the environmental implications in great detail and simultaneously
to demonstrate that no other option would have been more environmentally-friendly.
This highlighted the long timescales involved in securing new
8. Anglian Water was looking at constructing a new
reservoir in Lincolnshire and at increased water transfers from
the River Trent in the longer term. In the short term, an extension
was being planned to Wing water treatment works at Rutland Water,
increasing the treatment capacity by 90 megalitres per day with
the result that approximately 200,000 new properties could be
supplied. However, Rutland Water was a Special Protection Area
for birds, so a mitigation package had been proposed to help compensate
for potential environmental impacts on surrounding habitats.
9. The next presentation, on water efficiency, came
from Clare Ridgewell, Demand Planning Manager at Essex and Suffolk
Water. There were a number of factors affecting the successful
promotion of water efficiency. First, in terms of economics, it
was difficult to measure the savings and therefore to establish
a cost-benefit case. It was a risky option compared with resource
development because of the dependence on human behaviour. Second,
there was a challenge in persuading planners and developers to
adopt best practice, and there was potentially a need to provide
market transformation incentives to manufacturers and their customers.
Third, the sustainability of water efficiency improvements relied
upon permanent customer acceptance of water wise behaviour, which
again might require incentives. Finally, there were technological
issues: rainwater harvesting was fine as long as it rained and
greywater recycling was practical as long as the infrastructure
10. Ms Ridgewell then turned to some of Essex and
Suffolk Water's research projects. At the Heybridge social housing
development, the company had installed point-of-use meters (i.e.
on every water outlet) in 24 houses. Of these houses, 12 had been
made more water efficient through the installation of smaller
baths, spray taps and various other devices, at a total cost of
£50 per house. There was also some greywater recycling. The
other 12 houses had been used for control purposes in the experiment,
which ran for a total of 15 months.
11. The greywater recycling had presented significant
problems, with the filters becoming blocked and the pumps failing,
so this part of the experiment had been abandoned. However, the
water efficient devices had resulted in significant savings of
around 100 litres per day per household, equating to a 13 percent
saving per person (as compared to the amount that would have been
used in the equivalent non-water efficient devices) or a five
percent saving per person as a proportion of total water use.
These savings could have been even greater had water efficient
washing machines been provided.
12. However, some customers were not happy about
the smaller baths or the spray taps. In general, it was felt that
developers would not voluntarily install this kind of device because
water efficient homes were not saleable in the way that energy
efficient homes were becoming. Customer attitudes would need to
change if this situation was to improve. More successful had been
Essex and Suffolk Water's water audits, which involved the installation
of items such as cistern displacement devices, water efficient
showerheads and water butts, as well as a supply pipe leakage
test. Ms Ridgewell felt that the key was altering customer behaviourfor
example, they were trialling a water bill that compared each household's
water usage against the averagebut it was important to
focus on minimising water wastage rather than dictating lifestyles.
13. Linda Berkshire, Water Efficiency Officer at
Anglian Water, described how the company was currently involved
in a three year project on over 10,000 households in Peterborough
which had aimed to promote sustainable living in terms of energy
and water use as well as waste recycling. The houses had not been
built to be sustainable but the intention was to modify residents'
behaviour with the intention of embedding environmentally sustainable
behaviour. This included the provision of a pack of sustainable
products to each household. This experiment was felt to be extremely
valuable because it was concerned with cutting water use in existing
homes, which obviously far outnumbered the amount of new homes.
14. The meeting then turned to water metering and
pricing. Essex and Suffolk Water had encouraged greater take-up
of meterseven offering a switchback option to allay customers'
suspicionsbut despite initial success, the increase in
metering penetration was now levelling off around the 30 percent
mark. The company did exercise its right to insist on meter installation
in houses undergoing a change in ownership, but even then only
about 75 percent of houses were meterable because of issues such
as common supply pipes and shared water tanks. Another point of
interest was that the meters were out of sight so it was very
difficult for customers to track the water use day-to-day. Moreover,
the existing mechanical meters could not be read often enough
to make rising block tariffs work effectively, mainly because
there was no remote reading facility. In short, the company felt,
more sophisticated meters were needed if they were to make a genuine
and long-lasting difference to water use.
15. The final topic of the day was water recycling.
Mr Lunn explained Essex and Suffolk Water's Langford wastewater
recycling scheme to the Committee, noting that whereas all treated
wastewater had previously been released into the tidal Blackwater
Estuary, up to 40 megalitres per day was now sent for further
treatmentnutrient removal and UV disinfectionbefore
being discharged into the River Chelmer four kilometres upstream
of the water treatment works. This meant that up to 40 megalitres
of water which was previously being put directly into the sea
each day was now being made available for water supply and environmental
flows. Interestingly, the recycled water was of a better quality
than the river water itself, and the only reason that it was put
back into the river rather than being piped directly to Hanningfield
Reservoir was to satisfy public misgivings. In general, it was
felt that many wastewater treatment plants were discharging treated
effluent into the sea when it could easily be re-used.
16. Anglian Water had a different type of scheme
for re-using wastewater, whereby treated wastewater was supplied
to Flag Fen gas-fired power station in place of potable mains
water. There was felt to be potential for more such schemes, thus
helping to minimise unnecessary use of potable water.