The River Waveney rises just east of Diss and marks the county boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk. The river flows northeast through Beccles and Bungay where it joins the Broads navigation area, and then on to meet the River Yare at Great Yarmouth, where it enters the North Sea.
The catchment comprises 666 Km2 of mainly arable farmland on mainly medium soils. The river is boarded by grassland floodplains for the majority of its length but its many tributaries, including the River Dove, reach far into the surrounding, intensively farmed arable land.
The Lound Lakes, which includes Fritton Lake, are located on the boarder between Norfolk and Suffolk, between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. The lakes are a linear series of manmade basins, draining west to the River Waveney at St Olaves. The lakes were historically formed from peat diggings and then later utilised for their water storage. The catchment is 20km2 of intensively farmed arable land with a small amount of livestock.
River water quality
Nitrate and the pesticide metaldehyde can be present in the river water and are extremely difficult to remove through the treatment process. These substances mostly originate from agricultural land where they are applied as fertiliser and to prevent damage to crops by slugs. Phosphate and sediment also coming from the land can result in poorer river water quality. Removing these substances from the river water requires additional amounts of chemicals and energy, and therefore increases the cost of producing drinking water. The Lound lakes principally suffer from high inputs of nitrate and phosphate from the catchment, which leads to algal blooms and poor water quality.
In the Waveney catchment, Essex & Suffolk Water works collaboratively with Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) project and other stakeholders, with the aim of reducing the amount of pesticides, nitrates, and also phosphate and sediments, running off the land into the river.
In the Lound lakes catchment, work is being carried out in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority, and also with the Somerleyton Estate who own Fritton Lake, and with other land owners and tenants in the catchment.
Events, training and advice
Essex & Suffolk Water, alongside CSF, host events, training and advice days on a range of topics such as soil review workshops, biobed demonstrations, and Nitrate Vulnerable Zone workshops. We can provide free one-to-one farm visits on a variety of issues, and advice on fertiliser sprayer and pellet spreader calibration, manure sampling and analysis, biobed installations, farm mapping and agri-environment visits.
Your catchment advisor
Ian Skinner is Essex & Suffolk Water’s Catchment Advisor for the River Waveney, Fritton and Lound Lakes, and also for the River Bure and Trinity Broads. Ian has a degree in Agriculture from Newcastle University and an MSc. in Agriculture, Environment and Development from the University of East Anglia. He has worked as a contractor and relief cowman on many arable and dairy farms in Norfolk and Suffolk. He spent 15 years with the Environment Agency working with farmers to improve water quality through the NVZ Regulations and was a technical advisor for the launch of the Catchment Sensitive Farming Initiative. Ian joined Essex & Suffolk Water in 2015 to continue working with landowners in the catchments that supply our drinking water.