Anglian Water is proposing a Cambridgeshire location for one of two new reservoirs, due to cost between £1 bn and £2bn.
The plans show the reservoir to be situated either east or west of the Ouse Washes, near the border of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
Once completed the reservoir would be among the first new reservoirs built in Britain in more than 30 years.
Anglian Water hopes the project will help secure the region’s water supplies for future generations and would be accompanied by a second reservoir in south Lincolnshire, which combined would provide enough water for at least 750,000 homes.
The final locations of the reservoirs have not been decided; the company said it could not provide any further detail until a site selection study has been completed in the autumn.
Following site selection, a set of consultations with the public will be launched, with full details of the schemes.
Each of the projects is expected to cost somewhere between £1bn and £2bn to design, build and operate.
Anglian Water hopes to start building them by 2030, in order to start supplying water to taps by the mid to late 2030s.
The company said the plans had been in the pipeline for some 10 years – and the reservoirs would be needed to help combat the increasing impacts of climate change.
Alex Plant, director of strategy and regulation at Anglian Water, said: “Getting these projects underway now means the chances of our taps running dry are significantly reduced, as well as helping us take a big step forward in protecting the environment by reducing how much we take from elsewhere in the region. The reality is stark for the East of England. We operate in the driest part of the country and receive a third less rainfall than anywhere else in the UK, but we’re also one of the fastest growing regions, with 175,000 new homes to be built in the next five years.
“Together with a panel of expert partners, Anglian Water has been undertaking a wide range of assessments to identify potential locations for the reservoirs. That includes considering people and communities, the needs of the environment, landscape, existing water sources, engineering requirements, flood protection and many other factors.”
The next reservoir to be built in Britain is set to be constructed at Havant Thicket, near Portsmouth and is expected to be complete by 2029. It will have a total capacity of 8.7 billion litres, supplying an average of 21 million litres of water each day.
Almost 30 further reservoirs of a similar size will be needed to provide the capacity that the National Infrastructure Commission has said is required to safeguard the country’s water supply over the coming years.
Hannah Stanley-Jones, head of future resources strategy at Anglian Water said: “These new reservoirs will supply drinking water, but they bring much wider opportunities.
“We plan to provide new places for people to visit and enjoy, economic investment for communities, and homes for wildlife. We have seen what a positive contribution our existing water parks can bring to the people living and working near them. We want to create the same with these new reservoirs.”
Paul Kunes, Conservative cabinet member for the environment at West Norfolk Borough Council, said: “I welcome these proposals from Anglian Water and the potential investment in or around our area. I look forward to seeing more detailed plans about the proposed development.”
Image source: Anglian Water
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