Rivers are the lifeblood of our communities, and I am always struck by the special place that many of them have in our hearts, with many writing in regularly to state their desire to see more done to protect them – whether that be from storm overflows or sewage treatment work overspill, or simply by enhancing the habitat and biodiversity offer they provide for so many local species.
That’s why, as part of my ongoing work to tackle flooding AND boost local water management and resilience in our part of the world, I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Anglian Water’s ‘Get River Positive’ initiative.
Anglian Water, in partnership with their neighbours at Severn Trent Water, are investing over £50 million before 2030 so as to create new wetlands across the region. The first three wetlands near Charsfield and Cotton (both in Suffolk) and Stagsden (Bedfordshire) are planned to get underway next year – with a further 23 potential sites in the final stages of feasibility work too. 3 of these potential sites, I am told, are excitingly in Mid Norfolk.
With East Anglia the fastest growing region in the UK, the wetlands initiative is a major step forward to improving resilience using nature-based solutions without the need for carbon-hungry infrastructure and additional chemical usage.
Anglian Water’s five core commitments to ‘Get River Positive’ are:
- Ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers.
- Create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy our region's rivers. (their target is to have a designated bathing water within an hour for 90% of AW customers – e.g. coastal, Rutland Water plus certain rivers being assessed now).
- Support others to improve and care for rivers.
- Enhance local rivers and create new habitats so wildlife can thrive.
- Be open and transparent about AW’s performance and plans.
Furthermore, by maintaining, extending and enhancing their ‘offer’ in this way, Anglian Water can make our local water management systems more robust in the face of future pressures.
I am sure everyone will agree that this is positive news – not just in terms of tackling flooding by boosting flood resilience in our region, but also in terms of enhancing the local environment and improving water quality.
I look forward to learning more, as well as visiting later this year some of the wetland projects being run here in Mid Norfolk by the likes of Anglian Water and the Norfolk Rivers Trust.