EAST SUFFOLK PRIORITY CATCHMENT PROJECTS
The East Suffolk Catchment has been identified by the Environment Agency as one of 10 Abstraction Plan Priority Catchments across England. It was one of the first 4 to be announced in May 2018 and now in 2020, 6 more priority catchments have been identified where abstraction licensing strategies will be updated by bringing catchment partnerships, abstractors, and other stakeholders together to do this collaboratively. This is explained further here.
Meanwhile, projects are getting underway to tackle the challenge of abstraction reform, which will be important in the coming years if we are to manage freshwater resources sustainably. We are among a group of partners seeking to deliver projects which come up with solutions to the limited water supply and high demand in East Suffolk.
Felixstowe Peninsular Project
The Felixstowe Peninsula Project is the main project currently being delivered, which sees water that would have been pumped out to sea by the IDB re-abstracted and piped to a group of abstractors with storage reservoirs. This was granted an abstraction licence in May 2019, and the Environment Agency is now looking at opportunities where this project could be replicated.
It is part of a larger European Interreg funded project, Fresh4Cs, which is also investigating storing abstracted water in aquifers, known as Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). This links in to our work in the Sandlings which we undertook with funding from the EU's TOPSOIL project. Modelling is currently underway to identify a suitable location for another trial site, and identify other locations in East Suffolk where MAR could potentially be used in the future.
Stakeholders are also assessing feasibility of their own projects, such as Suffolk County Council looking at whether new developments could funnel run-off to storage facilities for subsequent abstraction. More information is available on the Green Suffolk website and on the Felixstowe Hydrocycle website.
Water Sensitive Farming Initiative
Suffolk Farming Wildlife Advisory Group (SFWAG) are leading this initiative in East Suffolk to provide advice and capital works to farmers to improve soil management. By addressing water quantity and quality issues they aim to develop a sustainable response to the risks and threats to East Suffolk's water resources. Find out more about the iniative on the SFWAG website here.
Aside from these projects, groups of licence holders in the catchment are also working with the Environment Agency to aggregate licences, which will enable flexible allocation and sharing of water amongst abstractors at a sub catchment level.
There is also currently an EU funding application being completed to undertake work in East Suffolk and 2 other catchments to develop a drought management toolkit, which we will provide updates on in due course.
We hope more projects will be developed under the theme of abstraction reform, and as they do we will update this section with the work being undertaken.
To find out more about priority catchments for abstraction reform, the EA's briefing note is available here. The County Council's Green Suffolk has information on the Holistic Water Management Project, which predates the more recent priority catchment work and gives the background to work being done on this theme in Suffolk - see here.