Anglian Water’s New Pipes Will Come At A Cost To Customers
Individuals and businesses signed up to Anglian Water can expect their bills to increase, as the water supplier has revealed it needs the money to expand its pipe network.
What is Anglian Water’s expansion project?
Anglian Water is in the process of building a new pipe between Humberside and south Essex, which is expected to cost £500 million, reported BBC News.
It claims this pipe, along with two new reservoirs, are required to provide its growing customer base with adequate water supply.
The pipeline, which is set to stretch 205 miles, will be used to transport water from the north of Anglian Water’s region to the south, as there is more water available towards the north-east of England.
Regan Harris, a representative from the water provider, told the publication the network, which will carry 55 million litres of water every day, is required to maintain water availability in the area.
She stated: “If we don’t take action now in projects like this, as well as new reservoirs for our region, then we simply won’t have enough to go around in the future.”
To give the public a perspective of the water problem developing in the UK, Ms Harris added that “all the water that we have in our region now for our customer base is spoken for”.
However, the population is expected to increase by one million over the next 25 years, which is why action needs to be taken to increase the water supply in the area.
The initiative, which was announced in 2019 and described as the “biggest project” the provider has ever undertaken, is expected to be ready by the end of 2025.
What else is Anglian Water investing in?
In addition to the pipe, which will be longer than the M1 motorway when complete, Anglian Water is investing in other projects.
These include building a reservoir in south Lincolnshire and another in the Cambridgeshire Fens.
Together, these will cost £4 billion, and will not be ready before the mid-2030s.
Ms Harris noted the reservoirs, which will store water for dry periods, such as the summer months, are necessary.
Otherwise, “we simply won’t have enough [water] to go around in the future”, she added.
- Sewer upgrades
Additionally, the water provider needs to upgrade sewer systems in its region, as this will reduce the amount of wastewater that ends up in rivers.
This comes after it was fined £2.65 million after allowing millions of litres of untreated water to overflow into the North Sea, breaching environmental permits, reported The BBC.
The Environment Agency in 2018 revealed the discharges, which occurred at Jaywick Water Recycling Centre near Clacton-on-Sea, after launching an investigation at the site.
It is thought 7.5 million litres of discharge were released between June and July that year, as a result of not having an adequate alarm system, failure to act on available data, and decommissioning important equipment on site.
- Smart meter roll-out
In addition to this, the water provider aims for all its customers to have smart meters before 2030, as this will reduce the amount of water being wasted.
Its Water Resource Management Plan revealed those who have smart meters typically save three per cent more water, as consumers can directly see the impact of changing their water habits.
In fact, Anglian Water hopes to reduce water usage by seven million litres between 2020 and 2025 through its smart meters. They are also expected to save customers an average of £251.97 a year by cutting the amount of water they waste.
Since 2020, over 100,000 leaks have been spotted thanks to smart meters, which have since been resolved, saving water and money.
Ian Rule, director of water for Anglian Water, stated: “We’re already starting to see significant reductions in the amount of water we need to abstract from the environment as our customers use their smart meter data to reduce their water usage.”
He added: “This is really helping to protect our region’s precious rivers and the ecosystems that depend upon them.”
- River protection
Anglian Water is also investing money in protecting local rivers, as this will increase the amount of water available for customers.
It recently announced plans to install a new storm tank at a water recycling centre (WRC) in Deeping St James, as well as upgrade technology on the site.
This comes as part of its intention to increase storm water storage across the region, which it is investing £100 million in. It hopes this will collect around 72.5 million litres of rainwater, protecting rivers and other parts of the environment during stormy weather conditions.
Once the water has been captured, it can be treated and returned to local rivers.
Furthermore, it has spent £3.5 million on its WRC in Wells-next-the-sea, including installing a new final settlement tank there. This will increase the amount of water treated, reducing the use of storm overflows, and providing protection from local rivers.
Why customers will be forced to pay for infrastructure upgrade
Anglian Water’s grand plans will not only come at a cost to the provider but to customers too.
The supplier intends to pay for the work through investor support upfront before earning the money back from customers by increasing their bills.
Ms Harris noted that water bills have grown by 12 per cent already this year, and this could increase even more to pay for the new infrastructure.
As the new pipe is expected to last up to 100 years, bill payers could be paying for the project through their water bills for the rest of their lives.
However, Ms Harris claimed customers support Anglian Water’s plans, saying they “would rather have small increases to our bills year-on-year … rather than a big lump sum further down the line”.
Despite this, the number of people struggling to afford their water bills is increasing.
Water regulator Ofwat’s recent cost of living research showed the proportion of people who had ‘never’ struggled to pay a household bill fell from 45 per cent in 2021 to 25 per cent.
What’s more, just under a quarter of customers are currently finding it difficult to afford their water bill. Therefore, increasing them even more could have a big impact on a significant number of bill payers.