Opening time for �15m waterworks near Norwich

A new �15m water treatment works has been opened on the outskirts of Norwich, to prevent a situation which would have seen hundreds of thousands of people in the city left without water.

Up until now, all the city's water was supplied by the treatment works at Heigham, off Waterworks Road, and water chiefs feared a catastrophic failure there would have left more than 200,000 people without easy access to drinking water for days or weeks.

Should the worst happen now, bosses at Anglian Water say the new works at Easy Hills in Costessey will keep the taps running, pumping up to 24m litres of treated water into Norwich every day from boreholes outside the city.

Paul Naylor, Anglian Water's regional supply manager said: 'East Hills was part of our resilience strategy, which was about looking at what would happen if the water sources serving large populations failed as a result of a catastrophe such as a flood, fire or explosion.

'Norwich emerged as the area most at risk. Outside of the city, Norfolk only has small water treatment works that would not be able to supply the amount of water the city needs.

'The sheer logistics of supplying 200,000 people from bowsers in the street are unimaginable.

'You soon get a picture of the city and surrounding area in dire straits, with the economic impact of businesses having to shut down, the problems caused to individuals and even the risk of civil unrest.

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'Heigham has a very good history and is very robust, but it is on the river and so it could flood.

'We looked at what we could do to improve the situation and realised we could run water from our boreholes at Costessey to a new water treatment works, which would then pump it into the city's water mains.

'That's what East Hills Water Treatment Works is.' Construction on the new works has been going on for the past 17 months and it was officially opened yesterday.

Almost 8km of new water mains were built to take water in and out of East Hills. The construction involved driving pipes through the chalk and underneath the River Wensum, by people working in shafts.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright, who officially opened the East Hills works, said: 'There are few things as important as a ready supply of clean, safe water.

'This new treatment works helps secure that supply for the people of Norwich and I am delighted to have been asked to officially open it.'

Do you have an environment story? Call Evening News environment reporter Jon Welch on 01603 772476 or email jon.welch@archant.co.uk