Great Bradley and the River Stour in Suffolk Ely Ouse-Essex Water Transfer Scheme
In the summer there is often a marked difference between the volume of water in the River Stour as it crosses the end of Water Lane compared with what goes under the bridge by the Church. This is because between these two points the first recognised tributary joins the river. It is on the left bank and is known as Kirtling Brook. Where the Brook joins the river is known as the 'Kirtling Outfall'.
Weirs on Kirtling Brook
The reason for the dramatic difference in flow is that the brook is used to transfer water from the River Ouse system into the Stour and then on to the reservoirs in Essex. It is part of what is called the 'Ely Ouse-Essex Water Transfer Scheme'. Created following the 1968 Ely Ouse Essex Water Act and operational from 1972, the transfer scheme prevents spare water from entering the Wash and takes it to the Essex reservoirs that supply water to Chelmsford and Colchester. The reservoirs are managed by the Essex and Suffolk Water company, part of Northumbrian Water Group.
The water is first taken from the River Ouse or (Great Ouse) at the Blackdyke intake on the Cut-off Channel at Feltwell in Norfolk. From here a 20 km tunnel takes the water to Kennet near Newmarket in Suffolk. It then goes in a 14km pipeline to Kirtling Green. The pumping station at Kirtling Green pumps water in to Kirtling Brook and thus into the River Stour at Great Bradley. The river therefore usually has a good and steady flow of clean water under the bridge by the Church on Hall Lane inn Great Bradley. About 400 megalitres per day (400 Ml/d) is pumped from Kirtling.The water then travels down the River Stour to Wixoe in Essex and is then abstracted for transfer to the Rivers Colne and the Pant. Abstraction of this water then takes place from these rivers for treatment and supply or for pumping to Abberton Reservoir near Colchester in Essex..90 Ml/d enters the reservoirs from the River.
The Ely Ouse Scheme flow is supplemented by the Environment Agency's Stour Augmentation Groundwater Scheme (SAGS). This uses pumping stations along the river to abstract water from the chalk underground and put it into the river to be taken to the Essex reservoirs. This provides about 25 Ml/d.
Route of the Ely Ouse Essex water transfer scheme
By 2014 this picture may have changed just little, as Essex and Suffolk Water have a proposal called the Abberton Reservoir Scheme in place. The overall aim of the Abberton Reservoir Scheme is to enlarge the capacity of the reservoir by 60%, and to provide enough water to fill it for future customer supply. Of interest to Great Bradley is the fact that the water that currently flows down the Kirtling Brook and in to the Stour, will be able to go in a new 15km pipeline from Kirtling to Wixoe instead. The aim of this is to ensure that enough water can be put into the system to reach the reservoirs in Essex but not damage the physical and biological environment of this part of the upper Stour.
Proposed route of new Kirtling to Wixoe pipeline
For information on the river flow rates in the Stour click here