History | BAWAG | Broadland Agricultural Water Abstractors Group

James Paterson was the NFU Norfolk delegate in the mid 1990s when the effect of the Habitats directive on water abstraction became apparent. The Broadland area has abstracted water for irrigation from the 1960s and is an unusual combination of free draining grade one soil ideal for potatoes and vegetables surrounded by protected environmental areas of marshland and broads. In discussion with Tony Lount (Raingear) we decided that it was not a big issue to the NFU HQ in London at that time, it was very important to Broadland Farmers to protect their water licences. BAWAG was formed in 1996 with James Paterson as Chairman and we invited abstractors to join. The first meeting was held in Stalham attended by 63 members. We have responded to every consultation issued by HMG and enjoyed strong and loyal support. The current membership is 181 with a total abstraction of 15,247,164 cubic meters. This water is used to irrigate high value crops such as potatoes, carrots, fruit and salads. In January 2005 BAWAG's Chief Executive realized that the lobbying that BAWAG was doing was coming to an end and that members were going to have to react to the legislation. New licences were being issued with "water efficiency" measures but there were no industry standards that farmers could work to. So the BAWAG Water Audit was designed.and presented to members in February 2005. The BAWAG Water Audit is in three sections. Section 1 deals with getting the abstractor to be more familiar with his licence requirements, the CAMS process and his local environmentally important sites. Section 2 deals with the maintenance and calibration of the irrigation machinery. Section 3 deals with staff training, scheduling of applications, problems caused by soil erosion and field record keeping. This Water Audit has now become the industry standard for Assured Produce. In May and June 2005, BAWAG embarked on a large scale training program for managers and operators. 40 managers attended a half day course on scheduling and record keeping and 40 operators attended a half day course for maintenance and operation. In May 2006 a further 50 operators and service engineers attended a half day workshop on maintenance and operation It is planned to put on another event in May 2007. Members are kept informed by an e mailed newsletter of current issues, if there are problems in a particular catchment.that are looming, members are made aware of problem well before the Environment Agency react with enforced restrictions. Although the summer of 2006 was a drought and more water was used than 2005, our members reacted