New £9m water pipeline will help protect precious Broads fen

Catfield Fen - one of the top wildlife sites in country

Anglian Water has completed a £9m new pipeline which means it will no longer abstract groundwater affecting the protected SSSI at Catfield Fen - Credit: James Bass

A £9m new water pipeline has been opened to stop drinking supplies being abstracted from a protected fen in the Norfolk Broads.

Anglian Water engineers have completed work on the new link from Norwich to Ludham which will maintain vital supplies to 3,000 homes while safeguarding the environment of Catfield Fen.

Previously, the public water supply for the area came from a borehole near the village of Ludham.

But environmental concerns over the degradation of nearby Catfield Fen - a rare habitat protected as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) - meant the company needed to find a new source of supply.

Anglian Water says the completion of the project means it will now stop using this groundwater source.

Instead, 3km of new pipeline will connect the village to Horstead Water Tower, where a new booster station and additional storage facility will pump water directly to customers’ taps. 


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Sarah Underhill, the company's regional water resources manager, said the project was part of a long-term challenge to balance competing water needs in the driest part of the country, with a growing population and more than 100 internationally-recognised environmental areas.

"Our role as a water company is to carefully manage our customers’ demand for water and the needs of the wider environment simultaneously," she said.

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"Between now and 2025 we have agreed to reduce the amount of water we take from the environment by 84 million litres a day. This pipeline project at Ludham is one of the first schemes to be implemented to fulfil this commitment. 

"The new pipeline means we can turn off our groundwater abstraction at Ludham.

"This will protect the environment in a much-loved, unique part of our region whilst keeping taps running for thousands of nearby homes for years to come.” 

Catfield Fen - one of the top wildlife sites in country

Anglian Water has completed a £9m new pipeline which means it will no longer abstract groundwater affecting the protected SSSI at Catfield Fen - Credit: James Bass

The degradation of Catfield Fen sparked an ongoing review of abstraction licences in the Ant Valley as the Environment Agency (EA) seeks to realign the complex balance between commercial, domestic and environmental water demands.

Environmental campaigners say the scope of the review should be much wider, while some farmers in the area claim they could lose thousands of pounds in revenue if they are unable to access water to irrigate their crops.

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