Cumbria Crack
Business

West Cumbria construction project on track despite coronavirus challenges

A view along the route of the new pipeline linking Thirlmere reservoir to West Cumbria, showing the land restored. Fences either side of the route will be removed once vegetation is established.

Engineers working on West Cumbria’s new multi million pound water supplies project are set to hit a host of new construction landmarks despite coronavirus challenges.

July marked the end of a mammoth re-vamp of 23 kilometres of water pipe and the completion of work on a ‘green’ roof at a brand new water treatment works at Williamsgate.

United Utilities says that despite COVID-19 and other challenges, it’s still on track to complete this major West Cumbrian construction project on time in 2022.

Now in its third year of construction, the improvement project will ensure there will always be enough water on tap for West Cumbria’s households and businesses. This unique scheme, which will link West Cumbria to the rest of the regional water network, has already achieved a number of significant milestones over the last 12 months including:

  • Completion of buildings at a new water treatment works at Williamsgate
  • 100km of new water pipes installed to transfer water from Thirlmere to the West Coast via the new Williamsgate works
  • Construction of two new pumping stations and two underground service reservoirs

John Hilton, United Utilities’ project director, said: “This is the first time that we’ve undertaken a project of this scale and we are incredibly proud of our achievements so far.

“Despite many challenges including the Covid-19 outbreak, dry weather, extreme wet weather and flooding, we’re still on track to finish in 2022.

“We’re making great progress on the land reinstatement phase for many parts of the project and the longer daylight hours during the summer will mean our teams can work extended hours to get the land returned to normal where we’ve installed the new pipelines.

“There’s still a lot of work to do but we’re confident that we can maintain progress and continue with the momentum that we’ve built over the last three years on the project.”

Aerial view of new water treatment works being built at Williamsgate. Careful landscaping, including a green roof, is helping mask views of the new plant from the Lake District National Park

During the COVID-19 lockdown the water firm was able to continue construction. At Williamsgate water treatment works the new filtration buildings, storage tanks and offices were finished and construction of the twin aqueducts and new tunnels from Thirlmere Reservoir to Williamsgate was completed. The green roof at the treatment works is now complete and will provide environmental benefits as well as ensuring that the treatment works blends in to the valley when work is complete.

At High Leys service reservoir, which will store a massive 50 million litres of treated water, the storage tanks and pumping station structure have been completed and tested, and the team is currently working on the electrical installations in the building. Work installing the roof is due to start in August 2020 with landscaping work and seeding taking place during August and September 2020.

Moota Hill service reservoir is smaller than High Leys but still holds 21 million litres of water. Main construction works have now been completed and electrical installation has started. Landscaping work is continuing, with seeding on course to be finished this month.  Planting of trees and hedges will begin this autumn and final testing is scheduled to take place during spring 2021.

Between the Lorton Valley and Stainburn two pipelines have been refurbished resulting in the restoration of just over 23km of pipes. The work has been completed through the process of slip lining which involves inserting a smaller diameter pipe inside an existing pipe. It was completed in July 2020 – a year ahead of schedule. The water mains currently supplies more than 30,000 households and businesses, in towns such as Workington and Cockermouth, so the team had to work hard to ensure the taps were kept flowing while this work was being carried out.

John Hilton added: “We’d like to thank local residents for their patience while we’ve been working in their areas.  We do understand that the scale of this project has involved a lot more construction traffic, noise and disruption for the community.

“When road closures have been disruptive, and bus services have been terminated, we have funded the bus service to reduce the impact of our works on residents. We’re committed to doing all we can to minimise disruption while we carry out this essential water supplies project.”

Customers wanting to find out more about the West Cumbria project can call 0345 672 3723 or visit unitedutilities.com/west-cumbria-update