So here we are all glammed up, thrilled to be receiving the from Anglian Water Business at a very enjoyable glitzy gala evening.
Fantastic. But of course behind all the razzle dazzle, there is a story which started with a number of people trudging around a 1,800 acre NT property (Ickworth, Suffolk) in the cold and wet looking for long forgotten, sometimes buried in soil or flooded, meters.
A daring tale of modern-day archeologists working from ancient maps tracking down over 3 miles of water supply pipework made out of – count ’em (we did) – four different materials, some of which is over 50 years old.
It’s a narrative of analysing spreadsheets of data showing water consumption recorded every 15 minutes by the Anglian Water logger attached to our main incoming meter. Sheep, horses, cricketers, tenants and 200,000 visitors all consume our water. But at times, over half of all the water coming onto our site was leaking out, thanks to an ageing network and shrinking/heaving clay soils. We started narrowing down the leaks and spent over £10,000 replacing and re-routing over a mile of a water main which ran under a woodland and ploughed field, costing us £5,700 each year in leaking water. Now the average leakage is down to around 13%, so are we turning the tide? We’d like to achieve even less loss, but quite often when you fix one leak, another pops out somewhere else. So in the new year will be installing smart meters on the main branches of the network which should up our leak-spotting game.
We are also trying to reduce our consumption of mains water, restoring the 50,000 litre Edwardian rainwater harvesting system, previously used to launder Lord Bristol’s shirts, so they weren’t uncomfortably stiff in our very hard water area. This is of course perfect for watering plants, which prefer a more acidic pH. Water harvesting was incorporated into the design of the new Plant Centre and WC block, as well as external fittings that are freeze-resistant, low use taps to the hand wash basins, twin flush WC cisterns & waterless urinals.
We’ve not just looked at Ickworth, Anglian Water Business kindly conducted 9 water audits at other properties in the East. Watch this space for posts about our water saving work at some of these other properties, including what the Victorians did for us at Blickling Hall and how to keep a moat topped up at Oxburgh Hall.
Just time for one more celebratory shot before it’s back to the spreadsheets…