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£22m survey in the pipeline for East Lancashire water supply
12:56pm Friday 11th October 2013 in News
A GIANT pipe that runs through East Lancashire supplying water to two million homes in the region is to undergo a £22million survey for the first time since it was built 58 years ago.
The 90km-long Haweswater Aqueduct runs from Cumbria to Manchester via the Bowland Fells, Clitheroe, Whalley, Huncoat and Accrington.
Commissioned in 1955 by the Manchester Corporation, the pipe is hundreds of feet deep in places and carries 570 million litres of water a day.
Now a 280-strong team of ‘aquanauts’ are to carry out a detailed structural analysis of the historical pipe this month in a project that has been in planning for the past decade.
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.
“Also, with some sections of pipe 19km long and hundreds below ground level, ensuring the safety and wellbeing – both mental and physical – of our crews that enter the aqueduct is vital.
“The depths, confined spaces and pipe deposits will make it like another planet down there which is why we need to be confident they are up to the task.”
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 to show they can cope with long periods in small spaces, and underwent specialist training on how to move safely in difficult surroundings.
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