Envireau Water recently negotiated and secured a new winter surface water abstraction licence from the River Idle.
The Nottinghamshire Idle system had previously been closed to new abstractions, at all flows, for tens of years. However our client was adamant that there was excess water flowing down the river in the winter months, as evidenced by the large volumes pumped into the Idle from local drainage ditches by the IDB in order to prevent local flooding.
Initial technical discussions with the Environment Agency yielded flow data which supported the Agency’s standpoint that there was no water available for licensing and that any winter abstraction could be detrimental to a riparian SSSI dependent upon regular inundation throughout the winter months. Again this didn’t tally with the field evidence from our client.
Further research with the Agency lead to the identification of pumping records from West Stockwith pumping station. This station pumps water from the tide locked Idle into the River Trent at high flows. The pumps run on level controlled switches and draw water down quickly in order to prevent flooding upstream. By the recognition of this pumping in the ‘water level management plan’ for the SSSI it was concluded that it was not considered to be detrimental to the condition of the SSSI. This pumping was not taken into account in the CAMS assessment used by the Agency for resource planning.
We secured a winter abstraction licence from the Environment Agency on the basis of hands-off flow controls linked to the operation of the pumps at both West Stockwith and the local IDB pumping station. That way the protection of the SSSI was ensured and there is a net benefit in terms of the volumes needed to be pumped by the pumping stations.
Envireau Water’s specialist expertise in water resource assessment and our tenacious approach to Environment Agency negotiation were key factors in the success of this project.