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Anglia Water plans a less-smelly summer

PUBLISHED: 08:30 19 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:02 22 October 2010

People in rural areas are being promised a less smelly summer this year.

Anglian Water is promising not to spread sewage close to people's homes and to avoid spreading at key times like weekends and during fairs and fetes.

People in rural areas are being promised a less smelly summer this year.

Anglian Water is promising not to spread sewage close to people's homes and to avoid spreading at key times like weekends and during fairs and fetes. The company hopes it will stop some of the perennial complaints from people living near farmland about the smell of muck-spreading.

From now on sewage will not be spread less than 55 yards (50m) from people's homes, or further if it is the smelliest kind. And Anglian Water is promising to work closely with communities to avoid spreading during outdoor events.

This summer will be a key time as most sewage products are spread on fields between July and October, and the warm weather also brings more complaints as people open their windows and spend more time in their gardens.

Raw human sewage is not spread on fields - what is spread is the sludge left over from the treatment process. Known as biosolids, it is high in nitrogen phosphate, magnesium, trace elements and sulphur, so is a useful fertiliser. It can also help the ground retain water, particularly useful in dry north Norfolk soils.

Sewage treated with lime, which is known as 'cake', is the smelliest kind, and will only be spread in remote areas. Other kinds of sludge will be spread a minimum of 55 yards from homes, watercourses and boreholes. In some cases, such as Weeting, near Brandon, where there were complaints last year, the minimum will be 110 yards (100m).

Anglian Water spokesman Collette Nicholls said: "We will take each case individually and take into consideration such factors as the prevailing wind. We will spread limed biosolids, or cake as we say in the trade, on land in isolated areas.

"If we are spreading the kind treated with lime, we will do it well away from residential homes and at a time that avoids weekends and any activities.

She added: "We also produce sludge from sludge digesters, where it is heated to kill the bad bacteria and the water is taken out.

"We get less product and it is less odorous. There is also a pellet form which we create from a thermal dryer, and that has hardly any odour. You could put your head in a bag of it and you wouldn't notice any smell."

Anglian Water is working with environmental health officers in Norfolk as well as investing millions in producing less smelly waste products, including a £20m plant at Kings Lynn. Human sewage only makes up 2pc of manure used on farms - most of it is animal waste, such as by-products from the poultry industry.


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