The increasingly unpredictable UK weather conditions with torrential rain one month, drought the next leaves water companies with a constant challenge to safeguard domestic supplies, according to United Utilities’ Jon Higham.
The senior project manager says his company, which has seven million customers across the North-west, is responding by investing heavily in an integrated pipe network.
The move allows water to be transported quickly and easily to those areas that need it most, especially during the type of extreme dry periods which have characterised the first half of this year.
The company’s £125 million west-east link main, the construction of which began in Spring 2009, epitomises this approach.
Stretching from Liverpool to Bury, and due for completion in Spring 2011, the 55km pipeline will allow 100 million litres of water a day to flow by gravity from east to west or to be pumped in the opposite direction.
Mr Higham says: “The pipeline is part of our long-term plan to make sure we keep reliable water supplies on tap.
“It will act like a water motorway, capable of transporting vast volumes across the region. To put it in perspective, if we tried to move this amount of water overland, we would need 4,000 road tankers every day.
“It is one of the biggest engineering projects we’ve ever undertaken, requiring 27 separate tunnels along its route to cross obstacles such as the M6, River Irwell and the West Coast railway line, not to mention several golf courses.
“It’s a massive challenge, but work is progressing well, and once complete, the pipeline will give us increased flexibility, allowing us to meet the future with confidence.”