Reed beds to filter East London’s drinking water from sludge

A £4.5 million reed bed system that will filter reservoir water to supply drinking water into parts of East London is now fully operational...

Reed Beds 003 Web
Richard Benyon MP and Heidi Mottram, chief executive of Northumbrian Water Limited at the reed beds next to Hanningfield Reservoir

A £4.5 million reed bed system that will filter up to 225,000 m3/day of reservoir water to supply drinking water into parts of East London is now fully operational.

The Essex & Suffolk Water system is located next to its Hanningfield Reservoir. The 16 reed beds, with a surface area of more than ten acres, will supply drinking water to a large part of Essex and part of east London; including Southend, Thurrock and the London Boroughs of Barking, Dagenham, Redbridge.

An early stage of the drinking water treatment process involves separating silts and algae from the raw water which is stored in the Hanningfield reservoir - this process creates up to 3,000 m3 of liquid sludge, every day.

The utility will treat the sludge using a natural reed bed system to naturally recycle water from the sludge without mechanical or chemical processes.

Essex & Suffolk Water said that since the 1950s these sludge wastes have been pumped to sludge lagoons adjacent to Hanningfield Reservoir. However, these are now at the end of their serviceable life and the new reed beds provide a long term sludge handling solution.

Natural environment minister, Richard Benyon MP, visited the Essex site to see the reed bed system in action.

Natural environment minister, Richard Benyon said: "This is a really exciting initiative and just the sort of innovative approach to water management we need. Ideas like this help us to create a more resilient water industry and boost economic growth.”

Heidi Mottram, chief executive of Northumbrian Water Limited, said: "As well as the clear environmental benefits, the system is far more cost efficient in the long term than the traditional mechanical option. Following the success of the Hanningfield Reed Beds, I’m confident we’ll see this model being followed elsewhere."

###

More in Drinking Water