A UNIQUE system to turn sludge into drinking water left an MP "fascinated" by the natural process.

Maldon MP Sir John Whittingdale, visited Hanningfield Reservoir with Dr Simon Lyster, the chair of the Essex Local Nature Partnership.

The reservoir produces between two and three million litres of liquid sludge each day, which is captured for re-use.

Sir John was shown how drinkable water is obtained from the sludge and filtered through a natural reed bed.

The system is the first of its kind in the world for treating sludge from the drinking water process.

There are 16 reed bed filter systems by the reservoir, covering 11 acres of land.

The filter system sustainably filters the sludge left from the water treatment works.

The sludge is mainly a mineral sludge with seasonally fluctuating levels of algae and suspended solids.

Sir John said: “I was fascinated to see how an entirely natural process allows a huge amount of water to be extracted from sludge for reuse and congratulate Essex and Suffolk Water and the Essex Local Nature Partnership on a world first."