Issue 121 November 2015
Investing in the future
With a commitment to environmental sustainability and economic development, United Utilities continues to invest in the North West as it continues its vital role in the region
Under license to provide water and sewage services to approximately seven million people and 200,000 businesses in the North West, the carefully regulated United Utilities (UU) has shown where its earnings were put to work over the last five years, with more than £3 billion invested in water and wastewater infrastructure improvements as well as environmental enhancements. These integral improvements include an investment in over 42,000 kilometres of water pipes from Cumbria to Cheshire, more than 76,000 kilometres of sewers, 569 wastewater treatment works, 94 water treatment works and over 56,000 hectares of catchment land. Moreover, by investing more than £4000 for every household in the North West since 1990, the company has halved the amount of leakage in its networks by replacing worn-out pipes; helped enhance compliance with regards to bathing water standards across the North West – with standards rising from just over 30 per cent to more than 90 per cent – and improved its water quality from 99.6 per cent to over 99.9 per cent – a record in the area.
As part of UU’s investment of over £3 billion into network improvements over the past five years, the company has striven to become a prominent part of the North Western economy and community. With such a heavy focus on the local area, its investment programme translated into a £7 billion boost to the region’s economy, supported 9000 jobs and put in place secure steps to a successful future. Amongst particular examples of investment projects from the period, the £125 million West- East Link Pipeline, which was completed in 2011, allows the company to move 100 million litres of water a day between the major population and economic hubs of Manchester and Liverpool. Built with flexibility in mind to serve the potential supply and demand issues, the 55-kilometre water pipeline relies on gravity to transport the water from Greater Manchester to Merseyside, with the option to pump in the opposite direction should the demand arise. The pipeline facilitates the maintenance of critical assets, replacing the need to use temporary mains pipes during maintenance and cleaning activities, thus protecting the security of water supply to its customers.
Continuing this tradition, over the next five years UU has committed to investing close to £6 billion into its water and wastewater network to retain this key role in the local economy. In Liverpool the company is implementing a £200 million project at its Liverpool Wastewater Treatment works to extend the current works, increase its capacity and therefore help keep the River Mersey clean. Upon completion the site will serve 600,000 people, treating waste to the highest standards before returning it the river. Elsewhere, in Lancashire, the organisation is investing a further £250 million to help improve the regions bathing waters with a new underground storage tank, sewer pipes, pumping station and outfall pipe in Anchorsholme with an aim to complete the improvements by 2019.
In Greater Manchester the company has invested heavily into its Davyhulme Wastewater Treatment Works to put itself at the forefront of renewable energy generation. An initial three-year development programme began in 2010, worth £100 million, to use excess sludge to help power the site. Over the coming years a further £200 million will be invested into the site to modernise the wastewater treatment work to keep up with growing demand and work is due to finish here in 2017. In addition, the region will also see investments into improving the quality of its rivers and watercourses including a £124 million plan to improve the Manchester Ship Canal, £12.3 million on the River Irwell, £15.8 million on the River Irk and £6.1 million on the River Coral.
One significant focus for UU over recent years is Cumbria, from where a third of the North West’s water comes, and the company has committed to operating in the area in the most sustainable and protective way possible. As such, over the last five years, it pumped £455 million into Cumbria’s water and wasterwater services. This is set to increase over the next period as the company looks to create new water pipes, including a new pipeline for West Cumbria, sewer pipes, treatment works and environmental enhancements. A new pipeline for the West of the region is proposed as a vital link to the main water network to take the strain off of local water sources as demand grows. As UU moves towards regenerating its network in the area it will continue to work in tandem with the local community and stakeholders to ensure the best solutions are implemented.
Investment is a key part of UU’s strategy as it moves forward. With a sprawl of densely populated urban centres alongside wideopen natural landscape, the company is operating in one of the most geographically and economically diverse regions in the country. As the North West faces a period of continued population growth and economic development, it is down to utility and infrastructure providers such as UU to invest and facilitate the associated rise in demand. Whilst undertaking this challenge, UU is keen to continue doing so in the most environmentally friendly and sustainable way possible.
Services: UK’s largest water company serving the North West of England