£35m project will keep our bathing waters clean

Map showing the new drainage scheme being installed in the south of Blackpool by United Utilities
Map showing the new drainage scheme being installed in the south of Blackpool by United Utilities
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It’s not easy to drive very far in Blackpool at the moment without coming across another big hole being dug in the road.

The past few months has seen various temporary traffic lights in place in St Annes Road in South Shore, and soon diversions will be in place in parts of Midgeland Road and Highfield Road.

United Utilities exhibition at Asygarth Community Centre

United Utilities exhibition at Asygarth Community Centre

It is tempting to get frustrated but then ask yourself, do you want to flush your loo without the danger of sewage backing up into your home?

Do you want Blackpool’s beaches and seawater to be clean?

Do you want your drinking water delivered to you in modern, new pipes?

Most of us would say yes to all three, but to get the right infrastructure in place means a lot of work needs to be done.

United Utilities exhibition at Asygarth Community Centre.  Sarah Allen from United Utilities talks to local residents Christine Willder and Robin Willder.

United Utilities exhibition at Asygarth Community Centre. Sarah Allen from United Utilities talks to local residents Christine Willder and Robin Willder.

Next month will see the start of a £35m project to install new pipes and a new pumping station in the south of Blackpool.

Engineers say the scheme is vital in order to update an 80-year-old waterworks system which is increasingly struggling to cope during times of heavy rainfall.

The main aim is to reduce the amount of rainwater which gets into the sewers.

Rainwater does not need to be cleaned, so removing it from the sewers will leave more room for dirty water from our toilets, showers and sinks which can be sent off for treatment.

This in turn will reduce the risk of sewage backing up during times of heavy rain.

It will also prevent polluted water going into the sea at times of overflow.

Steve Wong, area stakeholder manager for United Utilities, said: “In effect, we are untangling the drainage system we inherited from the Victorians, where everything drained into one system and was sent straight out to sea.

“Since the late 1990s we’ve been treating Blackpool’s sewage, but rainfall is a huge issue - it often overwhelms the system and carries dirty water into the sea.

“This latest project aims to divert some of that rainfall before it can cause problems with flooding or bathing water pollution.

“We understand construction work can be inconvenient and this type of work typically requires a lot of digging with heavy machinery.”

The new pipes will assist the natural drainage system as well as forming a foundation for new housing development, but the main driver is to improve the quality of sea water and meet tougher new environmental regulations.

Steve added; “Rainwater is not dirty and this new dedicated surface water system will pump it straight into the sea through the Lennox Gate pipe.

“This will leave the sewers with more capacity to deal with foul water.”

Work is due to start in April and will take about 12 months to complete.

Residents are being invited to three public exhibitions to find out more about the scheme, the first of which was held this week.

Most visitors accepted while there would inevitably be some disruption, the work was vital in order to improve the drainage and sewer systems.

David Crane, of Lytham Road, South Shore, said; “It is important to make sure the water is cleaner when it goes into the sea, and also to prevent people’s homes from flooding.

“So I think the improvements are very good and it is necessary to get the work done.

“People will just have to tolerate any disruption.”

Alan Murden, of Lowfield Road, Marton, said; “I’ve come along to see what the impact on the roads will be.

“It’s better to know what is going on rather than have fears about it once the project has started.

“The work is clearly necessary and hopefully it won’t be too disruptive.”

Two further public events take place at Aysgarth Community Centre, Aysgarth Court on Wednesday March 22 and Wedneday March 29, both between 1pm and 7pm.

A new pumping station is being built on land off Midgeland Road.

New pipes are being lain (see map) to carry the clean rainwater out to sea.

Existing pumping stations including at Lennox Gate are being upgraded.

New drainage basins will be created on Marton Moss to store additional rainwater when the pumping station is at capacity.

An underground holding tank is being built at Fishers Field to capture dirty stormwater from the sewer system when it fills up during heavy rain.

When the rain subsides and sewer levels drop, the captured stormwater will be sent for treatment, reducing the need for sewers to overflow into the sea.

The project is part of the latest £100m upgrade of Blackpool’s sewers and drains, which started in 2015.

In 2016, a new outfall pipe installed at Harrowside helped Blackpool win its first prestigious Blue Flag beach award.

Engineers have also been working in the north of the town where new storage tanks are now operating at Anchorsholme.

A new pumping station is also being built at Anchorsholme Park.

Another £13m three-year project is upgrading 17km of water pipes beneath Blackpool to improve tap water for 50,000 homes across the Fylde coast.