ICE Evening Meeting – Abberton Reservoir

Last night I attended one of the Institution of Civil Engineers Essex Branch evening meetings.  It was organised by one of my colleagues Steve Drake and was held at the Ardliegh Ramada Hotel, off the A12 north of Colchester.  In response to our members requests we have arranged for some of our evening meetings to be held in different locations to our home base venue of Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford.

The final choice of the ramada Hotel was not easy.  the cost was three times our usual venue cost – but justified as our previous vene and our next venue was/will be free of charge.  I think for the evening the room at the Ramada was around £700 (which I think is rather pricey).  Whilst it is reported that the food was good, I thought the room was dim and shabby.  I’m not sure if I would go there again however it was convinient for both the A12 and the railway in town.

The meeting started prmomptly at 6.30pm with a final head count of 45 members and guests.  There were 4 committee members in attendance which was excellent and there were a fair few members who have been to previous meetings.  There were also 30 attendees who have not recently been to an ICE evening meeting.

A very welcome guest was school student Liam Griffiths and his father. Liam is studying at King Edwards Grammar School in Chelmsford and is interested in Civil Engineering.  He had asked Carole (regional admin) if it would be  okay to come which it obviously was.  He was made to feel welcome by various people and he went home having enjoyed the meeting very much and clutching a goodie bag that I had put together with some career literature a Carillion Pen(!) and some other bits and bobs.  I hope he comes to another meeting soon.

The meeting was on the subject of raising Abberton Reservoir and was given by Essex and Suffolk Water Programme Manager Jim Jenkins.  Essex and Suffolk Water are a trading name of Northumbrian Water Limited for their operations supplying water to Suffolk and Essex.  The raising of Abberton Reservoir is one part of the whole Abberton Scheme which is designed to address the increasing demand and decreasing availability of water in Essex.  Essex is one of the driest counties in the country.

Jim described how Abberton Reservoir is effectively a pumped storage reservoir which receives water pumped from surrounding rivers.  Much of the water comes from the Denver Sluice via the natural and manmade rivers of the Fens.  A series of rivers and tunnels then brings a large proportion of the water to Abberton that would otherwise go out to sea to the Wash at Kings Lynn.

Jim outlined the improvements that are being made in this water transfer system from Denver Sluice to Abberton. In simple terms, two new pipelines are being laid to allow water to be transferred without overloading and/or damaging the watercoures that form part of the current transfer system.

In the main body of his presentation Jim described the works that are required to the reservoir at Abberton to accommodate the raised water level some 3.2m above the current level. These works include:

– raising the existing main dam and the construction of 4 new ‘col’ dams
– raising the B1026 Causeway and sealing the existing culvert with a pumping station
– reprofiling the existing shoreline to improve the habitat
– Diverting the B1026 highway over a length of 2km
– construction of new inlet structures
– raising the existing offtake pumping station which involves building a complete temporary pumping station while the work is carried out
– raising the existing dam overflow spillway and valve tower structures

The main driver behind the project is the need to increase the capacity of the reservoir however due to the internationally recognised importance of the reservoir for overwintering waterfowl and its designations as a SSSI / SPA/ RAMSAR site, protection and avoidance of disturbance of the ecology of the site is a major aspect of the works.

More details are on the project can be found on Jim’s presentation which can be found here.

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