Six mile water pipeline to carve its way through Preston countryside

A £16.5m project to boost water supplies across the North West gets underway near Preston today.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 7:38 am

Four under-used reservoirs are being connected to the region's network by a six-mile pipeline being built under the Lancashire countryside.

Engineers will even tunnel under the M6 motorway to link up White Bull near Longridge to Broughton and then on to the Franklaw Water Treatment Plant near Garstang.

The scheme will mean road closures in rural areas north of Preston, starting with Brabiner Lane which will be shut to traffic for nine days from this morning.

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Water will be taken from Spade Mill and Alston reservoirs near Longridge.

The region's water provider United Utilities says the new pipeline will mean up to 38m litres of water a day will be added to supplies - enough to serve 90,000 average homes.

Project manager Mark Roby said the company was always looking for ways to boost the long-term resilience of water supplies for the millions of people who use them.

“Making the most of existing untapped resources like these reservoirs near Longridge is a good way to boost our available water without additional impact on the environment," he explained.

"The four reservoirs (two) at Alston and (two) at Spade Mill have been collecting and storing water from the north Pennines for decades, but they have not been used for quite a few years because we haven’t needed them.

Map showing pipeline route (in purple) across from Longridge to Broughton.

"With changes in water usage and climate change, it makes sense to be planning ahead."

The project involves building a large underground aqueduct across miles of rural land taking the reservoir water to Franklaw, where it will be treated before entering the huge network of pipes which connects communities from Cumbria to Crewe.

The water will flow entirely by gravity following natural contours wherever possible. Most of the work will take place in fields, but the pipeline will need to cross several roads, including the M6.

In most cases engineers will drill underneath the road carriageway to avoid disruption for drivers.

Work gets underway today in Brabiner Lane to lay the pipeline.

But in three places there will need to be some temporary traffic lights and closures due to the size of the pipe and the delicate work that needs to be carried out to avoid other underground services.

Diversions will be in place and road works have been timed to start outside school term times as much as possible to avoid disruption to bus services.

The affected roads are:

* June 29 until July 8: Brabiner Lane closed between Cumeragh Lane and Haighton Green Lane.

This is the first of four road closures planned over the next few months.

* Early July until mid October: Traffic lights on Whittingham Lane, in Pudding Pie Nook, between the M6 motorway bridge and Langley Lane.

* Mid July until early September: Woodplumpton Lane, Broughton, closed from the access road to Broughton Water Works site to just past Sunningdale.

* Mid October until mid November: Whittingham Lane, in Pudding Pie Nook, closed from Langley Lane until just before the junction with Short Lane.

“We’ll be doing absolutely everything we can to make sure we complete the work as quickly as possible because we know what a pain these road closures and diversions will be for local people," said Mark.

"That means working weekends and making the most of the additional daylight through the summer months. We will make sure we keep people up-to-date with our progress with people as we go along.

United Utilities’ huge network of interconnected pipes is one of the largest single water networks in the UK. It means water can be moved around the region from where it is abundant to where it is needed, depending on local weather conditions.