Farrans Construction has won a £6.1m contract with United Utilities Water to build a new pipeline in Lancashire aimed at protecting water levels and boosting wildlife in the Brennand and Whitendale rivers running through the Trough of Bowland.
The joint Environment Agency and United Utilities project will help the rivers prosper by taking less water for drinking supplies when levels are getting low. By restoring a more natural flow, there is a greater opportunity to enhance and protect fish and other habitats.
The Environment Agency exercised its powers under Section 52 of the Water Resources Act 1991 to vary the conditions of the Brennand and Whitendale abstraction licences in order to reduce the volume of water United Utilities can abstract during periods of low flow in these rivers.
Farrans will design, build and commission the pipeline from Martholme Pumping Station near Clayton-le-Moors to Ramsgreave Service Reservoir.
Farrans will set up its site next week near Rishton and begin work on the pipeline, which will mainly pass through farmland. Completion is expected in autumn 2014.
Water was first taken from these two remote rivers in the 1870s, when it was used to provide supplies for the working mills and residents of east Lancashire. Now these two rivers provide drinking water to homes and businesses in Blackburn and the Ribble Valley.
Under a new agreement with the Environment Agency, United Utilities will ensure that water is only taken from the rivers when it is plentiful, using two new abstraction plants. New equipment measures the amount of water passing through it. Around five Olympic swimming pools a day must flow downstream before water can be sent to the aqueduct.
This scheme will see UU decommission a number of water intakes along the two rivers and refurbish those that remain.