Essex & Suffolk Water will bring together the worlds of ecology, agriculture and engineering at the Science, Water and Nature (SWaN) Conference – with a view to making our planet more sustainable.

The two-day event will take place at Five Lakes Resort in Colchester on 6-7 October and will facilitate discussion from a variety of experts, who will be treated to a visit to the magnificent Abberton Reservoir.


Throughout the conference attendees will explore how different industries can work together to maximise the use of nature-based solutions.


Collaboration will be crucial, as it was when Abberton Reservoir, one of Europe’s most important wetland sites, was enhanced between 2009 and 2015.


Essex & Suffolk Water, part of Northumbrian Water Limited, invested £150 million in the scheme which saw capacity increased by 58 per cent, meaning Abberton can now store an additional 15 billion litres of water – increasing total storage to 41 billion litres – securing supplies for future generations.


Dan Wilson, Asset Investment Programme Manager at Essex & Suffolk Water, managed the reservoir enhancement, and he couldn’t emphasise enough how important it was that everybody was on the same page from the very start.


He said: “The Abberton Scheme was absolutely a pioneering project for us as a water company, but also for the sector because I don’t think anything had been done before – or since – on that scale.


“We worked closely with Natural England, the Environment Agency, as well as various borough and parish councils. Having that engagement with all those external stakeholders from very early on enabled us to understand the constraints around the project and find solutions to them.


“The big takeaway for me that I would impart on others was how crucial that collaboration was. We started engaging with the key stakeholders in the early 1990s, so by the time the construction phase began many years later, there were no surprises.


“The SWaN Conference will be another fantastic opportunity to get together with so many important industries, to talk to them, to learn from them and to work with them.


“I have no doubt at all that it will be a hugely beneficial couple of days.”


The SWaN Conference will consist of four sessions and three workshops across the two days, covering a range of topics – from innovation to legislation.


Similarly, speakers from DEFRA, Ofwat, HM Treasury, Savills, and the Environment Bank – to name but a few – will delve into a number of key issues we all need to consider to enhance our partnerships in the future.


The conference will enable attendees and speakers to learn from each other about what is working in the way of nature-based solutions, as well as what isn’t and what research is taking place.


Northumbrian Water want to build partnerships from the event and explore ideas that the UK water industry can then develop with others.


There is still time to book your place at the SWaN Conference by visiting