Ground-breaking reed bed system cuts carbon for Essex & Suffolk Water

Essex & Suffolk Water's recently completed reed bed system, thought to be the first of its kind, is saving the company 70 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year compared with a conventional system.

The £4.5m reed bed system, which is located at the Hanningfield Reservoir, near Chelmsford, was visited by Natural Environment Minister, Richard Benyon this week.

Benyon said: “This is a really exciting initiative and just the sort of innovative approach to water management we need. Ideas like this help us to create a more resilient water industry and boost economic growth.”

Although reed beds systems have been used successfully for many years in sewage and food applications they have never been utilised in the water treatment process.

The new system will naturally recycle water from the sludge without mechanical or chemical processes, which traditionally require high levels of maintenance labour and power.

Following several years of research and large scale trials to prove the viability of the reed beds, construction of the new system began in June 2011 and was completed late in 2012.

Northumbrian Water, which owns Essex & Suffolk Water, chief executive Heidi Mottram said that not only was the new system good for the environment, but that it reduced costs as well.

“Using this natural process to recycle the valuable water from sludge is great news for the environment and our customers – significantly reducing the amount of energy and eliminating chemicals required in this stage of the water treatment process,” she said.

Mottram added: “As well as the clear environmental benefits, the system is far more cost efficient in the long term than the traditional mechanical option. Following the success of the Hanningfield Reed Beds, I’m confident we’ll see this model being followed elsewhere.”

Conor McGlone

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