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We’re reducing our borehole water abstraction with a new water treatment facility at Sundon Reservoir. We’ll be using an existing pipe network we have with Anglian Water to bring in water from their Grafham Reservoir, treating the water at our new facility and continuing to supply our communities.

Join us at our online drop-in sessions for more information

Please join us for one of our online drop-in events. We’ll talk to you about the project in slightly more detail as well as offer you the opportunity to ask us any questions you may have following on from the letter/email you received.

 

What is abstraction exactly?

Abstraction is the process of taking water from deep underground in the chalk aquifer, which is known as groundwater. Chalk aquifers are what feed chalk streams.

By reducing our abstraction we’re supporting our commitment to restoring chalk streams with their unique and rare habitats in the Chilterns and beyond. We’ve set this out in our ‘Revitalising Chalk Rivers Programme’.

Protecting our chalk streams

Our supply area is unique as it contains 10% of the world’s rare chalk streams. These streams are special habitats that are home to a range of wildlife species, including:

  • Water Crowfoot
  • Flag Iris
  • Mayfly
  • Brown Trout
  • Kingfisher
  • Otters
  • Water Voles (currently nationally endangered)

Chalk streams are at risk of extinction because of the impacts of climate change, as well as the demand for water rising, due to the population continually growing. Many chalk streams in England are dry for long stretches and don’t currently meet the objectives that have been set out in environmental legislation.

The Environment Agency has spoken about how important chalk streams are: ‘English chalk streams are considered to be one of the most precious and beautiful things in the natural world, known for their clear waters, rich wildlife and for providing a beautiful place for people to enjoy’.

As we reduce the amount of water we abstract from chalk streams, we need to continue to meet the demand for water in our supply area. This means we’ll be increasing our water supply from alternative sources.

We’re already importing water into our area from Anglian Water’s Grafham water treatment works but this water needs to go further into our supply area. As one of our alternative water sources, this will continue to help reduce the amount of groundwater abstraction from local groundwater sources.

Grafham water is completely safe to drink and complies with the high-quality standards set out by the regulator, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). However, it’s different chemically to our water. We’ll be conditioning the water as our pipes are used to water with different chemistry. If we didn’t make these changes to the water from Grafham, there’s a risk that it could be discoloured.

Our new water treatment plant is located at our existing Sundon Reservoir site in Bedfordshire. This site used to operate as a water storage facility for Anglian Water. After purchasing this facility, we began construction on the new water treatment facility in October 2022.

We’ll be turning the water treatment plant on in May/June 2024. Customers in the affected areas will be contacted in advance to notify them of the potential change to the taste and smell of their water.

The photo below shows the progress to date of our new site at Sundon Reservoir:

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