Giant pipe secures water supplies

Posted: Monday 6th August 2007

Installation of a giant water main is underway in the North East.

The 17km, one-metre-diameter, water main will run from a water treatment works in the Tyne Valley to Gosforth in Newcastle and cost £12 million to construct.

Snaking its way through mostly rural areas the new pipe will also be tunnelled underneath the A69 near Horsley Village, a section of Hadrians Wall north west of Heddon-on-the-Wall, the A696 and Metro rail line close to Newcastle International Airport Freight Terminal, the A1 south of Hazelrigg and the A1056 Sandy Lane adjacent to Gosforth Park.

Northumbrian Water is working closely with archaeologists to ensure correct procedures are followed and that the section of Hadrians Wall and what lies beneath is protected.

This is part of Northumbrian Water’s largest ever trunk water mains cleaning programme which will reduce the risk of discoloured water and improve water quality to half a million customers in South East Northumberland, North Tyneside and north of Newcastle. The scheme, in total, is costing £25 million.

One hundred and fifty six kilometres of trunk water mains, which are large-diameter pipes that move water around the region, will be cleaned. Cleaning will begin next year and take up to three years to complete.

Preparation work for the mains cleaning programme, which involves installing big valves on the trunk water mains network so that sections of pipe can be isolated, emptied and cleaned, is necessary to ensure customers’ water supplies are maintained while the cleaning work is carried out. Installation of the new water main is part of this preparation work which will be complete by Spring 2008.

Barbara Leech from Consumer Council for Water, the water company’s customer watchdog, welcomes the installation of the new main to facilitate the cleansing work: “We know that the appearance of drinking water can be of concern to customers even though the water meets all of the quality requirements. This cleansing work should contribute towards improving the appearance of drinking water in areas affected and further improve customer satisfaction.

“We will continue to work with Northumbrian Water to monitor the delivery of this programme of work to ensure that is achieves the projected reduction in the number of customer contacts about discoloured water.”

Graham Neave, Northumbrian Water’s Operations Director, said: “The new trunk water main will run parallel to the existing north circular trunk main and supply 210,000 properties in North Tyneside and north of Newcastle while we are cleaning the existing main. The new pipe will make our water network more robust and safeguard water supplies for future generations.

“The mains cleaning programme is essential to maintain excellent quality tap water and reduce the risk of it being discoloured. Over time sediment can build up in trunk water mains and although discoloured water is not harmful to health we appreciate that it is not pleasant or acceptable.”

Tap water quality to customers living in Amble, Morwick, Acklington, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Morpeth, Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Gosforth, Longbenton, West Moor, Killingworth, Palmersville, Forest Hall, Holystone, Backworth, Dudley, Seghill, Cramlington, Blyth, Seaton Delaval, Shiremoor, North Shields, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay will be improved by the cleaning programme.

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