Water project on target

CELIA WIGG A £3.8m project to improve the quality of water supplies in the Harleston area is nearing completion and looks certain to be finished well ahead of schedule.

CELIA WIGG

A £3.8m project to improve the quality of water supplies in the Harleston area is nearing completion and looks certain to be finished well ahead of schedule.

Anglian Water launched the mammoth project to replace 40 kilometres of 50-year-old cast iron water mains in Harleston and neighbouring villages of Redenhall, Needham and Wortwell in November 2005. The existing pipes had been in place for about 50 years, were liable to spring leaks and needed to be replaced with modern plastic ones.

The target was to complete the scheme by March 2007, with engineers using the latest “trenchless technology” as far as possible.

This means fewer roads have to be completely dug up and faster progress is made.

But there has still been substantial disruption over the past 13 months, with carriageways partially blocked and temporary traffic lights frequently in use during the work. One stretch of road at Needham has had to be dug up three times and in March 5000 residents were involved in a scare when it was feared their tap water had become contaminated.

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A sample taken at Harleston water tower during the commissioning of new pipes had an unacceptably cloudy appearance. Bottled water was issued to all the properties affected, although the restrictions were quickly lifted.

Dan Baker of Anglian Water said that though they had returned to some areas more than once to carry out work this had not hindered progress.

“The underlying measure is that we are ahead of schedule. As we speak, substantially the scheme is completed even though we said it was going to be March 2007. Most people in Harleston, Needham and Wortwell will now have water supplied via the new mains.

There is some finishing off to do in Needham which is the end of the project. Certainly, by the end of this year everyone who was going to have water from the new pipes will have it,” he said.

Mr Baker said workmen will be returning in January to do some tidying up, which includes carting away the old broken pipes. And he praised local people for their tolerance and understanding during the project.

“Brian Harding at the parish council has been fantastic. If there have been any concerns, he has put people in touch with us. I would also like to thank all in Harleston and these villages for their patience and co-operation during the scheme. The aim is to improve their water quality but we are mindful that there has, at times, been considerable disruption,” he added.