Anglian applies for permit to avoid Christmas water shortages

Anglian Water has applied for a drought permit, which would allow it to abstract extra water from the river Nene in order to top up its Pitsford Water reservoir with an extra 17 million litres a day.

The reservoir is currently only 56% full, after a year of low rainfall, including the driest spring for 80 years. This is coupled with low river flow in the River Nene, means Anglian Water has had to take the unusual step of applying to the Environment Agency for a Drought Permit in the winter, in order to secure supply over the coming months.

Anglian spokesperson Ciaran Nelson said: “Last year’s winter was the most severe since records began over 100 years ago. If that wasn’t enough, we saw an average 20% less winter rainfall in our supply region, followed by the driest spring in over 80 years.

“During the autumn, river flows in the Nene deteriorated further. In September rainfall was on average 49% lower than in previous years.

“If the dry conditions were to continue throughout this winter, storage levels at Pitsford would not recover and would remain very low. That’s why we’re taking prudent action now, applying for a Drought Permit, to try to keep water supplies secure and customers’ taps flowing.”

The company has launched a consumer awareness campaign, including local press and radio advertising, urging its customers to reduce the amount of water they use this winter, and encouraging them to “get saving now for summer”.

However, explained Mr Nelson, “As a precaution, we have submitted an application to the Environment Agency for a winter drought permit. This permit, if granted, will allow us to take additional water from the River Nene during the winter. We have applied for this permit in winter because taking water at that time of year is less likely to have an impact on the environment.”

Will Parsons

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie