Work will soon be underway in rivers in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk to help give added protection to endangered eels.

Essex & Suffolk Water will be installing special screens at its water intakes on the rivers Chelmer, Blackwater, Stour, Waveney and Bure to protect eels.

European Eels have been in decline all over Europe over the past 30 years with the number of elvers (young eels) migrating into European rivers falling to less than 5% of 1980s levels. This decline has put the eel on the endangered list and made it the subject of legislation to help reverse the decline in the number of adult eels returning to the sea.

Special screens at 5 river intakes across the region will be installed to prevent eels becoming drawn into the points where freshwater is taken from the rivers to supply reservoirs and water treatment works.

Integrated Water Services Ltd. will be starting work on the eel protection project in February 2017 at Brantham on the River Stour in Suffolk. The £4million project to install protection at intakes across the water company’s area will be completed by March 2020.

Daniel Wilson, Project Manager for Essex & Suffolk Water said: “We take water from rivers in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. This water is directed towards our water treatment works where we treat the river water and turn it into top quality drinking water for our customers. We are committed to doing this in a way that protects the environment, which is so important to us all.’’

“Work will soon be getting underway at Brantham on the River Stour in Suffolk, where we are installing a special screen that is made up of fine mesh panels which prevent eels from being drawn into the intake point. This work will start in February 2017 and finish in the summer of 2017’’

"Since the 1980’s Eel populations have seen a sharp decline. It’s not known exactly why there’s been such a dramatic decline but this project will help ensure the safe passage of eels in our region and ultimately I hope will contribute to restoring populations.” he further added.

Further updates on the progress of the works can be found on the Essex & Suffolk Water community portal: