Anglian Water has submitted plans for the most southerly section of its new multi-million-pound water main network.
Hundreds of kilometres of new interconnecting pipelines - stretching from North Lincolnshire, through Cambridgeshire, to Suffolk and Essex - will be laid as part of the scheme.
This Bury St Edmunds to Colchester pipeline will run for 68 kilometres and includes new above-ground assets in seven locations, including pumping stations.
Subject to planning consent, the water company expects pipelaying work to begin in 2023.
The four councils along the planned route are West Suffolk District Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council and Colchester Borough Council.
It is one part of a new network which will stretch from Lincolnshire to Essex, bringing water from the wettest parts in the north of the region to the driest areas in the south and east.
John Neil, who leads the team delivering the Bury St Edmunds to Colchester section, said: “The new pipelines will allow water to be moved to areas where it is needed most, while also strengthening local resilience by reducing the number of homes and businesses which rely on a single water source.
“They are vital in addressing the predicted ‘jaws of death’ moment for water availability in the East of England – the point at which demand for water greatly outstrips the available supply.
“With 175,000 new homes to be built in the next few years, it is vital we ensure we have resilient infrastructure in place to support local authorities in delivering their Local Plans, and residents who live in the area.
“We look forward to working with all of the local councils as they review our application.”
This summer was the East of England’s driest since 1959. Despite recent rainfall, most of the region’s reservoirs, river levels and underground water stores all remain below normal for this time of year. Even more rain and even more help from customers is needed to save water now, for next summer.
The combined effects of climate change and high population growth in the region means that, without action, the East of England could run out of water as soon as 2030.
The strategic pipeline will make use of the latest technology, some never used before in the UK, each one designed to reduce the carbon footprint and any environmental impact associated with the scheme delivery.
The Bury St Edmunds to Colchester section has been specifically designed to avoid sensitive ecological sites and areas where environmental surveys have found protected species like badgers, water voles, bats and Great Crested Newts.
The entire network has also been designed to have the lowest carbon footprint possible in line with Anglian Water’s pledge to reach net zero carbon by 2030 and is expected to go into service in 2025.
The mammoth project is part of the water company’s Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP), which looks 25 years ahead.