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Recycling strategy to halve water consumption on Cambridge development

16 Oct 15 The UK’s largest water recycling system is being planned for the North West Cambridge Development

On the site of the main rainwater impounding lake are, left to right, Jon Neve of  Turner & Townsend, Gareth Brewerton and Phil Newland of Cambridge Water, Brian Nearney from Cambridge Uni and Tim Orange and Mike Sloan from Cambridge Water
On the site of the main rainwater impounding lake are, left to right, Jon Neve of Turner & Townsend, Gareth Brewerton and Phil Newland of Cambridge Water, Brian Nearney from Cambridge Uni and Tim Orange and Mike Sloan from Cambridge Water

Under an agreement between Cambridge Water and the University of Cambridge, two water supplies are being installed on the 150-hectare development site. One will recycle rain and surface water to use for flushing toilets, washing clothes and watering gardens; the other will supply high-quality treated water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Both are designed to minimise potable water consumption on the development that will include 3,000 homes, 2000 post-graduate student rooms, a supermarket, a hotel and a primary school.

The water use strategy is expected to reduce average potable water consumption to 80 litres per person per day, which is almost half the UK average. 

The water will be supplied by Cambridge Water, a subsidiary of South Staffordshire Water Plc. Managing director Phil Newland said: “We are delighted to be able to support the University of Cambridge in this innovative and highly sustainable development which fully embraces the need to conserve water. The commitment to provide the UK’s largest water recycling system will help raise awareness of the need to conserve water, and seek to encourage other developers to consider water efficiency when proposing new developments.”

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The site’s sustainable urban drainage system will see rain and surface water collected in a series of man-made lakes and naturally filtered through reed beds. The water will then be re-filtered, sterilised by UV and dosed with chlorine, before being used for toilet flushing, clothes washing and outdoor use.

Brian Nearney, commercial director of the North West Cambridge Development said: “The agreement between Cambridge Water and the university is an innovative collaboration that meets the high sustainability targets for the development. The pioneering method of recycling rainwater in this region in particular is something to be proud of, given the relative water scarcity in the area.”

The new system is being project managed on the university’s behalf by Turner & Townsend and is being installed on a self-lay basis by Skanska. Cambridge Water, and one of its sister companies IWS have supported the university in supervising and designing the project. IWS will also be building the treatment plant for the recycled water. Cambridge Water will ultimately take on responsibility for the recycled water supply system, the potable water supply system and their operation.

The first phase of the North West Cambridge Development is scheduled for completion by spring 2017.

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