Writing to Water Companies, Politicians and Planners
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Letter to Anglian Water every hour that it rains
When you notice it has started to rain create an email using the text below and send it to Anglian Water. If you have the time you can send an email every hour it is raining. Feel free to edit the text, to make it less generic etc. In their reply Anglian Water will mention that they are not charging for the information, although they have that option. Never in all the time we have been sending info requests have they charged, and it would be damaging for their reputation if they started now.
COPY AND PASTE THE LETTER BELOW INTO A NEW EMAIL –
Subject: Storm Overflows to the Cam catchment from Anglian Water sewage works and assets
Dear Anglian Water,
Under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, can you tell me if any of your assets are discharging to the River Rhee at Haslingfield or Arrington, to the river Mel in Melbourn, to the river Cam in Great Chesterford, Cambridge Riverside and Milton, to the river Granta in Linton, and to the Cam in Bottisham under storm conditions at the time of this email? Please tell me the start and stop times of these discharges.
As stated in Part 2, Sections 4, 5 & 6 of the Regulations, I request this information sent to me in an email AND made available to the public online, so that it is displayed actively and systematically. By being displayed online you will be complying with Part 1, Section 2 (f) regarding how human health might be affected by discharges and the risk of coming into contact with sewage.
Write to your MP. Surfers for Sewage have created a simple letter for you to send here
Write to Greater Cambs planning officers here.
This is draft letter explains that current water supply in Cambridge is unsustainable. We demand a pause on all further development until new water infrastructure is fully operational.
I am writing to draw your attention to the impacts of further development on the Cam Valley chalk streams, ponds and the ecology that relies on them for survival.
The Environment Agency has said that "current levels of abstraction are causing environmental damage. Any increase in use within existing licenced volumes will increase the pressure on a system that is already failing environmental targets." Furthermore, "many water bodies did not have the flows required to support the ecology."
The Stantec Report (attached), commissioned by Cambridge City Council and published in November 2020, confirmed these findings. It states on pg 17:
There is no environmental capacity for additional growth to be supplied by increased abstraction from the Chalk Aquifer. Even current levels of abstraction are widely believed to be unsustainable.
According to Appendix 3 of this current Environment Agency consultation on water stressed areas
Cambridge Water needs to reduce abstraction by 22 million litres of water per day.
Water Companies repeatedly state that they can meet extra demand through "demand management" and leakage reduction, however, according to the National Audit Office (NAO), water companies have consistently failed to deliver on these schemes. The NAO found that:
Reducing demand is essential... Defra has left it to water companies to promote the need to reduce household water consumption, and yet it continues to increase
water companies’ long-term progress on tackling leakage and reducing water consumption has stalled over the past five years.
The report can be downloaded here: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/water-supply-and-demand-management/
Please also confirm that you are fully aware that Anglian Water plan to supply Northstowe by bulk buying from Cambridge Water, see
Cambridge Water abstraction is already causing environmental damage. I emphasise the letter from the Environment Agency again;
current levels of abstraction are causing environmental damage. ANY increase in use within existing licenced volumes will increase the pressure on a system that is ALREADY FAILING.
Cambridge Water is currently abstracting what is permitted within their abstraction licences. These were granted under the Water Resources Act 1963 when licences were issued in line with what abstractors simply asked for or had historically abstracted. No environmental impact studies were required at the time, nor was there a serious attempt to quantify what resources were actually available. This licensing regime has never been reformed, nearly 50 years later. However, a revised Cam & Ely Ouse Abstraction Licensing Strategy was published by the Environment Agency online on 22 December 2020. The section on groundwater states:
We will reduce the licensed quantities if there is a risk that abstracting all the licensed water could impact on the ecology. The 2015 River Basin Management Plan classifications of water body status are based on the level of annual average abstraction during 2007 to 2012. If average abstraction increases above this baseline level the status of water bodies may deteriorate. We cannot allow this. To reduce the risk of deterioration we are taking a risk-based approach. In the first instance we will reduce licensed volumes to the annual maximum quantity abstracted between 2005 and 2015.
In some water bodies capping abstraction to the historic annual maximum volume may not be enough. This is because abstraction was already unsustainable in 2015. We may need to make further changes to licences to restore abstraction to sustainable levels, this could include additional volume reductions. Licences are being renewed until 31 March 2024 in water bodies where we are investigating what measures are required to restore abstraction to sustainable levels.
Please could you confirm that you are fully aware of the information in this email and that you understand the impact of further development on the chalk aquifer, local rivers, wildlife and agriculture prior to permitting any further developments that will lead to increased abstraction from the Cam Chalk Aquifer or damage to other water bodies in the Cambridge area.