As well as being one of Britain’s most important wildlife habitats, the Trinity Broads is an important source of drinking water, used by Essex & Suffolk Water to serve a large customer area including Great Yarmouth.
The Broads are internationally recognised for their species and habitats, and are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Therefore careful consideration had to be given in order to safeguard future water supplies whilst protecting the local ecosystem.
In order to achieve this, Essex & Suffolk Water has now completed a significant investment project which has seen the removal of 10,000 cubic metres of nutrient rich mud, from shallow areas of the Broads, which had accumulated over decades.
Removing this mud will encourage the growth of water plants which provide important habitat for wildlife and will also help to maintain clear water supplies to the local water treatment works.
This ambitious project involved the hydraulic pumping of approximately 50,000 cubic metres of sediment and water from shallow areas of the Broads.
The material was pumped distances of up to 1km into ‘geobags’ – huge woven polypropylene bags that retained the solid material and allowed for surplus water drain away. This was the first time that geobags have been used for a project on this scale in the UK. The de-watered sediment was then used as a soil improver for local farmland.
Jonathan Thompson, Project Manager for Essex & Suffolk Water said: “The completion of this project is significant as it means water supplies for Great Yarmouth and surrounding areas have been secured for many years to come, and the natural environment of the Trinity Broads is being protected. The Broads are a special place in terms of their ecology and a fantastic asset for the local area, and we were determined to preserve and enhance this as much as possible.
“The work was carefully planned with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Natural England to prevent any disturbance to breeding birds, for which the site is so important. We would like to thank all of the stakeholders and partners for their assistance and support throughout this crucial project.”
The mud pumping project commenced on site in February 2017, and was completed in August 2017. Essex & Suffolk Water worked closely with Norfolk Wildlife Trust to ensure the work was carried out in a way that minimised any inconvenience to customers and the local community.
Alongside Norfolk Wildlife Trust, other key stakeholders included the Environment Agency, Natural England and The Broads Authority. Engagement also took place with community groups, water users, landowners and farmers.
Essex & Suffolk Water, the Broads Authority, Natural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency have been working in partnership for many years to improve water quality and people’s enjoyment of the area. Activities including mud-pumping, scrub removal and managing non-native species, such as mink, have all been undertaken by the partnership.
The Trinity Broads are part of the Broads National Park and are a superb recreational resource with boardwalks and viewing platforms for those who want to enjoy the vast amount of nature and wildlife on display. The Trinity Broads also offers excellent facilities for boating and angling.