Articles & Case Studies

Anglian Water takes reed bed approach to treating groundwater

Posted: Friday 31st July 2009

UK market leader in natural wastewater treatment solutions, ARM, has teamed up with water company Anglian Water to explore the advantages of reed bed technology when it comes to treating increased flow to treatment works from groundwater infiltration.

The reed bed treatment system at Burnham Market, Norfolk, has been designed to cope with high groundwater infiltration which affects the flow of effluent to the treatment works every three to five years.

This means that, for just a few months in that period, there is a greater flow of effluent requiring treatment than the works generally has to deal with.

John Grimm, project engineer at Anglian Water, explains the role of reed beds in combating this challenge:

“Whenever the capacity of effluent exceeds normal levels – for example, when groundwater infiltration is high – the excess effluent flows into the treatment works and then into storm tanks.

“This treated effluent is then diverted onto a 1,200 m² horizontal flow reed bed – which can also be used for the treatment of storm water – accepting up to 800 m³ of wastewater per day.

“The reed bed adds an extra level of treatment and increases the capacity we have to treat the wastewater. Reed beds also have the advantage of having no moving parts, requiring less maintenance and they are, quite literally, greener.”

Tori Widdas, director at ARM, comments:

“We have been working with Anglian Water on a number of projects for 15 years – including trialling floating reed bed technology.

“When they came to us with the challenges they faced at Burnham Market, we were able to come up with a solution that was cost-appropriate and attractive from both environmental and maintenance perspectives.

“Reed beds are able to show significant savings during their lifetime because of reduced maintenance and no or low power requirements. In comparison to conventional treatment plants, reed beds require very little ongoing attention.”

As the regulating authority, The Environment Agency approves the use of reed beds for wastewater treatment. They have commented: “In order to discharge to the watercourse, businesses and water companies have to obtain the relevant discharge consent from us – stating that their discharge meets a certain standard.

“We are increasingly finding that reed beds can be used to meet these consents – providing a final ‘polish’ to the effluent (which has been pre-treated) before it is discharged into the local environment.”

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