Inside the Williamsgate Water Treatment Works. Credit: via United Utilities

United Utilities’ £300m Cumbria scheme hits milestone

In the works since 2015, the project involves installing a 100-kilometre pipeline, building five tunnels, constructing two service reservoirs and creating a treatment works facility.

Around 1,400 households in West Cumbria have now received their water from the project, with the remaining 78,600 households and businesses set to be connected by the end of autumn.

The water comes from Thirlmere Reservoir and travels via gravity to Williamsgate Water Treatment Works. There, green energy generated by the water arriving at the facility is used to make it safe for consumption. The facility can treat up to 80m litres of water every day.

The hydro turbine at Williamsgate does not provide enough energy for all of the plant’s needs, but it does meet 40% of the energy requirement.

To create the Williamsgate facility, more than 400,000 tonnes of earth had to be moved. This earth was then used to landscape the area and to help the treatment facility “merge into the natural contours of the surrounding environment,” according to a press release. The facility also has a living green roof.

“To have the first customers receiving water through their taps from the new treatment works is a fantastic achievement for us,” said John Hilton, project director at United Utilities.

“This is one of the largest feats of engineering we’ve ever undertaken at United Utilities and I’m incredibly proud of the work that has been done by all our teams and contractors to deliver it,” he continued.

“Throughout the project, we’ve thought about the local environment we’re working in and have embraced the latest technology to ensure we’ve delivered a treatment works and network that will provide West Cumbria with a more sustainable water supply.”

The two new service reservoirs that were created are High Leys and Moota Hill. Between both the treatment facility and the two service reservoirs, United Utilities has the capability of storing 100 mega litres of water in West Cumbria. That is the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The planning process for the project started in spring 2015, with construction starting in March 2017.

United Utilities estimates that the project contributed more than £52m to the Cumbrian economy. More than 50 Cumbrian firms were involved in the process.

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