A team of specialist contractors will be surveying one of the UK’s largest and most important water pipes in Lancashire.
The 280-strong team, dubbed “aquanauts”, have undergone rigorous training at a simulation factory before surveying the Haweswater aqueduct.
Commissioned in 1955 by the Manchester Corporation, the Haweswater aqueduct is 55 miles long, hundreds of feet deep in places, and allows 570 million litres of water to flow from Cumbria to Manchester every day. It passes through Bowland Forest, as well as other Lancashire areas including Tatham Fells, Clitheroe, Whalley and Accrington.
Water is taken from the aqueduct and supplied into people across Lancashire. The gravity-driven ‘mega-pipe’ is responsible for the water supply of approximately two million people.
Now part of United Utilities’ estate, the North West water company is investing £22m in a project to conduct a detailed structural analysis of the asset for the first time in its history during October.
Carl Sanders, senior project manager at United Utilities, said: “It’s not like turning off a tap. Draining and shutting down the system to allow maintenance crews in to conduct a thorough analysis, involves over 400 workers in total operating on 45 separate projects to ensure the network of supporting treatment works can ‘take the strain’ while Haweswater is offline.”
Eighty crew members have been chosen to go into the aqueduct after training at the simulation facility in Kendal, Cumbria. Each had to pass strict health and fitness tests, psychological tests and underwent specialist training on how to move safely in difficult surroundings.