Agricultural irrigators in coastal Suffolk are facing reduced supply of freshwater resources (16% by 2027), due to regulatory reform and competition from Public Water Supply. They also are predicting increased demand from increased customer requirements and climate change. As such, investments in alternative and sustainable water resources are necessary. In the same region high surface flow water is currently pumped into the North Sea by the Internal Drainage Board (IDB), from below sea level pumping stations along the Suffolk coast, in order to meet their national drainage responsibilities. The obvious opportunity is to recycle this freshwater to farm based winter storage, to use for summer irrigation , instead of wasting this scarce resource to the North Sea.
To achieve this a 11.5 km pipeline will be installed, serviced by a common pumping system. This will pass through different landowners land and deliver to existing and future winter water storage vessels, including the Managed Aquifer Recharge demo site. This will be achieved by Felixstowe Hydrocycle, a farmers’ co-operative.
This demo case combines innovations at technological and non-technological level in order to prove that a viable business case is possible. Through the farmers’ co-operative, five farmers will work together to deliver a collective scheme, taking advantage of the larger scale to minimize costs and organizational time needed. We will developing a system to separate fresh and saline flows at the sea wall , to allow freshwater to be pumped separately to saline water. The cooperation between the different private and public FRESH4Cs partners allows that all regulatory and environmental stakeholders are involved to solve regulatory and organizational problems, and to maximize benefits for farmers and the environment.
The Felixstowe demo case has the ambition to serve as a best practice of farmer to farmer interaction to preserve precious fresh water resources, with added benefits for all coastal water users including the environment.