Water resources in the East of England are under ever-increasing pressure due to the combined effects of population growth, the upward demand for irrigated crops and climate change.
This is particularly pronounced on the Felixstowe Peninsula where the Environment Agency has calculated that, even during the winter when river flows are at their highest, there is no additional water available for abstraction. Farmers estimate that they already need a further 1 million cubic metres to meet current irrigation demand and Anglian Water calculates that unless they bring additional water into the area they will have a shortfall in supply within 20 years. Unfortunately, any further abstraction could risk damaging the precious wetland habitats and rivers of the Peninsula.
To help address this deficit, Suffolk County Council is partnering with Environment Agency, University of East Anglia and Felixstowe Hydrocycle (a consortium of five local farmers) in the FRESH4Cs project, part of the Interreg 2 Seas Programme. Financial support from the European Union has been secured to part fund the construction of a pipeline and water management infrastructure to bring drainage water (which is currently pumped to sea) inland for irrigation and potentially for public water supply. The project builds on 5 years of research and development carried out by the Suffolk Holistic Water Management project.
Find out more on the Green Suffolk website.
How we will work with FRESH4Cs
Suffolk County Council is part of FRESH4Cs, a €6 million, three-year initiative, supported by the 2 Seas European Regional Development Fund, to develop 5 demo sites of innovative, freshwater augmentation projects in the water-stressed coastal areas of Belgium, Netherlands and the UK.
Suffolk County Council will work closely with Felixstowe Hydrocycle to construct and run demonstration sites for the usage of alternative water resources. Demonstration sites include a system for the storage and distribution of storm water and a pilot installation for the demonstration of creek ridge infiltration, or managed aquifer recharge. Both demonstrations will take place near Felixstowe in Suffolk (UK).
The project will run for three years with the aim of having the pipeline fully operational by January 2020 and the managed aquifer recharge trial operational in January 2021.
The shortage of sustainable freshwater supplies, for both agriculture and public water supply, is a common problem across East Anglia and Europe and it is envisaged that successful projects will be used a road map, for others facing similar challenges.
Suffolk County Council will act as the UK communications lead and support the communications work package with responsibility for the future wide dissemination of roadmaps and technology assessment beyond project duration.
FRESH4Cs is part of the Interreg 2 Seas Programme, a European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) Programme and integral part of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy. It promotes cross-border cooperation between the coastal regions of 4 Member States: France, England, Belgium/Flanders and the Netherlands.
The aim of cross-border cooperation is to overcome national borders and to address common problems or opportunities that would benefit from a common approach. Visit FRESH4Cs website for more information.
To find out more about the two demo sites in Felixstowe, take a look at the project summary video.