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Thames Water prepares to turn on Beckton desalination plant

Utility firm Thames Water is preparing to turn on Beckton desalination plant in January if the dry weather continues, its chief executive Martin Baggs told NCE last week.

It would be the first time the plant has operated, apart from in testing, since it opened last year. The facility is capable of putting an additional 150M litres a day into the water supply, but it is a technique more associated with dry countries in the Middle East.

“The desalination plant at Beckton is not there to be used every day of the week but as an emergency back-up,” Baggs said. “But if we had to put water restrictions on the city [of London] the impact is estimated at £300M a day.”

Baggs said 16 out of the last 20 months have seen below average rainfall across the region leading to low water levels. Thames Water is also switching on extraction boreholes on the North London Artificial Recharge Scheme to help avoid any water restrictions across the capital.

Baggs said behaviour change is also needed to reduce strain on water supplies and is keen to avoid any restrictions during next year’s Olympic Games. “Can you imagine the consequences of us hosting the Olympics next summer and having to put water restriction on?” added Baggs.

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