Haweswater aqueduct constructionIt took over twenty years to build; it’s capable of delivering 570 million litres of fresh, clean drinking water per day and supplies around 2 million customers.

This mega pipe is the Haweswater aqueduct. Hundreds of feet deep in places and 90km long, it delivers water from Cumbria to Manchester.

Since the first water from Haweswater arrived in Manchester via the pipe in 1955, this amazing feat of engineering has stood the test of time and still serves a key role in modern-day water supply.

And to make sure it continues to meet the demands of today, a £22 million structural analysis was required.

Draining and shutting down the Haweswater aqueduct for the first time in its history took a decade to plan and involved more than 400 workers delivering 45 separate projects to ensure the network of supporting treatment works could take the strain while Haweswater was offline.

Aqanauts80 carefully selected specialists engineers dubbed ‘aquanauts’ went through a series of fitness tests and psychological training to ensure they could cope underground for long periods.

Everything was specially designed for the team, from the toilet and wash facilities right down to the way lunch boxes were stacked on the 16 specialist vehicle access systems – ‘pipe mobiles’.

For a tense three week period, the 80 aquanauts carefully carried out internal inspections inside the aqueduct.

The project was a complete success and the regional water supply system was returned back to normal on time without any accidents or incidents.

The first Haweswater aquaduct inspection outage has given us some valuable structural information which has help define the strategy for the road ahead for the aqueduct. Two more longer duration outages are now planned for the month of October in both 2015 and 2016. The emphasis of the next two outages will move from inspections to investigations and repairs. A major task during the next outages is to complete more focused and detail investigations on the area of concern we discovered in the first outage inspections.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews