Strange rig is key to cleaner waters

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A giant floating rig has been launched in a bid to clean up the sea off the coast of Blackpool.

The strange looking vessel is part of a new five-year project by United Utilities aimed at helping to improve the quality of bathing water on the Fylde coast.

The 18-metre high pontoon rig will be used to test the ground conditions of the sea bed.

The information will then be used to help the company plan how it can construct parts of a new sewer network.

Steve Wong, from United Utilities, said: “One of a number of factors which can impact bathing waters comes from untreated storm water running into the sea from the sewer network during heavy periods of rain.

“While sewer improvements alone won’t solve the problem with bathing waters, we want to make sure we’re playing our part.

“We currently have two large projects planned to improve our network in Blackpool.”

The rig has been assembled in Morecambe and is set to be in place in waters off South Shore this morning.

After two weeks there it will be transported north to lie level with Anchorsholme Park, where it will stay for three months.

At each location, a small section of beach will temporarily be closed, while the pontoon is on site.

Since 2010, United Utilities has invested more than £200m along the Fylde coast to improve the sewer network, with even more investment on the horizon to help the area comply with stringent new European

bathing laws.

Lee Bryce, the company’s bathing waters manager, said: “We have invested heavily upgrading our waste-water network along the Fylde Coast, and we are continuing to roll out projects to clean up bathing waters.”