Anglian trades water access to help struggling farmers

Anglian Water has struck a short term trade to make more water available for farmers struggling to irrigate their crops.

Under the two-week deal with the Environment Agency and local drainage board, Anglian will take less water from the River Nene for public supply purposes, so farmers around Peterborough and Cambridge have access to an extra 20 million litres a day. That is equivalent to the domestic use of 150,000 customers.

Nick Walters, ground and surface water manager for Anglian Water said: “Despite the recent dry weather, we know our water resources are in a good place for this time of year – our reservoirs are 85% full and groundwater levels are healthy. This isn’t just down to luck, but a combination of the wet winter, the fact that we store lots of water in preparation for when it’s dry, and our industry leading stance on tackling leakage, together means that our supplies are secure this year.

“Agriculture makes up a huge part of our local economy and water is a vital part of supporting that. We know local farmers are concerned about their crops this year, which is why we’re redirecting this precious resource to areas that need it most.”

Last month Anglian Water announced the official launch of the Water Resources East (WRE) – a multi-stakeholder project to tackle the threat that climate change and population growth is having on the East of England’s finite water supply. Walters commented: “Part of WRE’s plan will be to develop longer standing ‘water trading’ arrangements like these in the future as well as considering new ways of storing and sharing water so we can manage our water resources together, and make severe drought restrictions a thing of the past.”

Manfai Tang, environment manager at the Environment Agency said: “We…welcome the innovative approach which should leave more water in the river helping wildlife and the environment, and give farmers access to more water. We encourage other water companies across the country to work with us at the Environment Agency on similar projects.

“We are committed to supporting farmers who have had a dry few months by allowing them to flex their abstraction licences where we are satisfied there won’t be any adverse effects on the environment.”