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Work on Preston drainage tunnels begins

United Utilities have started the construction of five micro-tunnels underneath the streets of Preston to stop waste water flowing into the River Ribble at times of heavy rainfall.

At an estimated cost of £114m, United Utilites have just started digging the first of eight shafts at Watery Lane, which will allow a Micro Tunnel Boring machine to dig 27 metres beneath the surface of the city. Using hydraulic jacks behind the machine, the water company’s drainage contractor will push pipes through the tunnels behind the machine.

The five tunnels, when complete, will eventually connect to a 3.5km storm store. It’s hoped the scheme will significantly improve the water quality around the Fylde Coast and Ribble Estuary.

The principal project manager on the project, Brian Edwards, stated:

“The project has been planned to help the river and the Fylde coast comply with European legislation.

“Once complete, improvements should be seen to river quality and shellfish waters along the estuary and to beaches at Southport, Ainsdale, St Annes and Blackpool.”

The new tunnel will direct the excess waste water to a pumping station in Penwortham and provide over 40,000 cubic metres of extra storage for storm water, instead of it flowing into the River Ribble.