River Ingol Wetland Creation

We are well rehearsed at building new wetland habitats in order to create & provide new habitats for the benefit of wildlife and plants.  The work forms a regular part of our annual work program and from our perspective, we are always extremely proud to be asked to work on these exciting and diverse projects. Transforming uninteresting pockets of the countryside into an oasis of biodiversity bursting with life is extremely satisfying and provides long standing and far reaching benefits to the local environment in which we are working.

This winter and spring has seen our teams working on a special Wetland Creation project on a pocket of land adjoining the River Ingol in North West Norfolk.  The project with Norfolk Rivers Trust, Anglian Water and the Environment Agency has required us to work in amongst some very wet soils throughout what has been widely regarded as a very wet winter time period.  The ground conditions have been challenging to work in as a result of ‘The Beast from The East’ and regular heavy rainfalls doing their best to hamper our progress!

The project has involved the creation of 4 shallow interconnected pools and the diversion of the River Ingol.  The River Ingol itself has a chalk river bed.  Chalk watercourses are extremely rare on a global level.  The Ingol is one of just 206 chalk streams in the world which makes the habitat which exists around the river system extremely important.   The 4 new pools and the river banks are being planted with native chalk wetland species such as iris, sedges, rush, marsh marigold and watercress.

The reason why this project is so special is that the new wetland area is delivering a dual benefit.  It is providing all the benefits that might be expected with regards to a new wetland site.  The pools are providing feeding & breeding grounds for wetland wildlife and birds directly alongside the River Ingol.

However, this project also happens to have an Anglian Water Sewage treatment plant situated nearby too and the treated water from the plant ultimately has always ended up in the River Ingol.  Naturally this water is already treated with the treatment plant but water quality tests had shown that the discharged water from the plant was not of the desired levels that Anglian Water are looking to achieve and as a result, action was needed to cleanse the water still further before it entered the River Ingol.  Anglian Water, The Environment Agency and Norfolk Rivers Trust therefore decided that the way forwards was to re-direct the discharged water flow into the new pools (as opposed to directly into the River Ingol).

Each pool is set at a carefully positioned level which allows the water to flow through it slowly before then flowing into the next pool by the interconnecting pipework.  The plant life within the pools will slow the water flow and filter the bad properties contained within the water accordingly.  Each pool will slowly remove the unwanted phosphates and ammonia and the negative properties attached to the water coming from the treatment plant.  By the time the water exits the 4th pool and discharges back directly into the River Ingol, the water quality will be significantly improved allowing wildlife and habitats which exists downstream of the treatment plant within the River Ingol to thrive.

The addition of the wetland is a method of enhancing the water quality using natural assistance as oppose to implementing expensive high carbon treatment equipment.  Over 50,000 plants are being planted by Norfolk Rivers Trust in the new pools, with nature then doing the hard work of improving the water quality before it enters the River Ingol!  Once the pools are operational, they will treat around 1 million litres of water per day.

In addition to the creation of the 4 new pools, our teams have also been required to divert and re-direct a section of the River Ingol in order to allow the pools to be constructed.  The river course has been moved to a new route with Norfolk Rivers Trust carefully crafting a new route designed to enhance the habitat which is there for local wildlife in the future.

As well as the planting of the wetland pools, the surrounding area has also been re-planted by Norfolk Rivers Trust.  The trees which used to be present on the site had sadly fallen victim to Ash Dieback disease. The need to re-populate the area with carefully selected trees and plants is a therefore a very big part of the long term success of the project.

This project represents a brilliant example of organisations working together to achieve a shared goal.  The development of new wetland sites has obvious positives attached to it but this site is also quietly delivering a very important additional function of improving water quality too.

Further details of wetland works can be found here