United Utilities engineers are expected to start work on a £6million improvement programme for the local sewer network as early as mid-August.

The scheme – part of a wide range of improvement works United Utilities are undertaking across north-west England – will reduce the amount of storm water discharged through sewerage pipes into the river during heavy downpours.

Project manager Dawn Harrington said the improvements would make changes to the size of the sewer network and the way it works, to ensure that in the future it can hold more wastewater and cope better with extra flows during heavy rainstorms.

“The work will help upsize the local sewer network in the north and south of [Lancaster],” said Ms Harrington. “The improved sewer network will capture more water in the system, reducing the frequency of overflows.”

The Environment Agency (EA) has welcomed news of the project after its own research showed that pollution from the River Lune can directly impact the quality of water in nearby Morecambe Bay – a European Marine Site and a UK Special Site of Scientific Interest.

The EA’s Elaine Fisher, added: “We hope that these works will improve the quality of United Utilities’ discharges into the River Lune which will ultimately improve our coastal bathing water quality.”

Ms Fisher also noted that the improvement works would be a timely boost in efforts to ensure the north-west’s bathing waters meet new tougher EU standards coming into force in 2015.

Locally, the scale of the construction work will require the temporary closure of a car park and the diversion of a 50-metre stretch of cycleway. Trees have also been removed from along the river’s embankments, although United Utilities have pledged to deliver new landscaping upon completion of the project.

Drop-in sessions are being held in the Liberal Club, on Lune Street, Lancaster LA1 2AJ, every Thursday and Friday afternoon from 1pm to 5pm. The first session is on Thursday August 4.

Sam Plester

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