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Felixstowe Hydrocycle Ltd is an innovative, farmer led, water supply and management company working in partnership with the Environment Agency, the Local Authority and Drainage Board to bring sustainably sourced fresh water supplies onto the Felixstowe Peninsula.

Background

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 1million cubic meters 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.

In 2018, to help address this deficit, 5 local farmers got together to form Felixstowe Hydrocycle. With the support of The Environment Agency, Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board and The University of East Anglia, the company secured a €969k grant from the European Union 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.

Water Source

The water will be sourced from the Kingsfleet, where the East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board currently pump more than 1 million tons of water into the tidal River Deben each year.

The existing, high-volume land drainage pumps are believed to contribute to erosion of the valuable saltmarsh. The Felixstowe Hydrocycle scheme will help to minimise this erosion whilst leaving sufficient flow to maintain the integrity of the mudflats and saltmarsh. As part of the scheme, local conservation groups are working alongside the East Suffolk IDB to restore the mudflats with the support of a Defra ‘Water Environment Grant’.

Water Transfer

The transfer pipeline will be approximately 11km long. Its route has been selected to avoid areas of conservation importance and archaeological sites.

Water will be distributed to participating farms where it will be stored in reservoirs to supplement irrigation supplies. Sufficient capacity will be built into the system to help meet stakeholder demands in the future.

MAR

Managed Aquifer Recharge; an innovative method of water storage which uses the natural water holding capacity of the underlying strata, will be trialled as part of the development.

Surplus water will be pumped into shallow lagoons or trenches where it will soak into the ground supplementing normal winter rainfall and helping to recharge groundwater stores. Water levels within the aquifer will be monitored throughout the trial to see if this extra water can be retained for long enough to support additional abstraction and contribute to summer river flows.

The benefit of using natural aquifers to store the water is that this avoids the need to construct large, resource and land hungry reservoirs. Any water that is not re-abstracted for agriculture can be left in the ground to supplement springs and river flows.

FRESH4Cs

 

 

The Felixstowe Hydrocycle project is part of FRESH4Cs; a €6M, three year initiative, supported by the 2 Seas European Regional Development Fund, to develop 5 demo sites of innovative, fresh water augmentation projects in the water stressed coastal areas of Belgium, Netherlands and the UK.

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. This is why the project is supported by the other UK partners to ensure that all stakeholders interests are considered in the development and to use the respective skills of their businesses to help for a smooth delivery of the project and future roll out to a wider audience.

The project will run for three years with the aim of having the pipeline fully operational by Jan 2020 and the Managed Aquifer Recharge trial operational in Jan 2021.

People

Company Members

Michael Paul
Nat Le Roux
William Kerr ( Farms ) Ltd
WO & PO Jolly ( Ipswich) Ltd
Home Farm ( Nacton ) Ltd

Staff Members

John Patrick
john@felixstowehydrocycle.com
44 (0)7866 448083

Paul Bradford
paul@felixstowehydrocycle.com
44 (0)7766 086360

FRESH4C’s UK Partners

Suffolk County Council
Environment Agency
University of East Anglia

FRESH4C’s UK Observer Partners

UKIA (United Kingdom Irrigation Association)
Natural England
National Farmers Union
ESWAG (East Suffolk Water Abstractor Group)