Birmingham’s Lord Mayor has been to see the launch of the Tunnel boring machine at the second of our three huge multi-million pound bypass tunnels being built to reinforce water supplies for Birmingham.
The Elan Valley Aqueduct (EVA) has been bringing water to the homes and businesses of Birmingham and the surrounding area for over 100 years. However, after so many years of service, the need for regular maintenance and refurbishment is becoming ever more frequent and so the time has come to provide extra support for the EVA to make sure that it can continue to provide service for another 100 years. Bring on the Birmingham Resilience Project – our flagship £300M programme.
Paul Dennison, programme manager, explains: “At the moment, the EVA is the sole source of supply into Birmingham, and storage at our treatment works at Frankley means we can only turn it off for a few days at a time for maintenance. To allow us to turn it off for longer periods, an alternative water supply for the city is being built. Work began this month on a new pipeline from Lickhill, near Stourport-on-Severn, 25km from the existing water treatment works in Birmingham.
“However, our checks on the existing aqueduct show that in three places, there is work that we'd rather do before the new pipeline is completed. As we can’t shut down the aqueduct, we've had to come up with alternative solutions.”
Three new tunnels will be built, then connected at either end, to bypass sections of the existing aqueduct. These will be at Bleddfa, Nantmel and Knighton. Each of the multi-million pound
projects is huge in its own right, and the machine used to cut the new tunnels is over 3 metres in diameter, so as you can imagine it's quite a job!
Paul continued: “We’ve been working with our contract partner, the BNM Alliance, since 2015 on the first tunnel at Bleddfa. That part of the work is complete and we’ve now started work on
the second of the three bypass tunnels. On Friday (5 May), Councillor Carl Rice, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, came to see the relaunch of the Tunnel Boring Machine at Nantmel, where it will spend the next five months underground, digging a 1km long tunnel. Local school children from Crossgates County Primary School held a competition to name the machine, with “Nantmel Supermole” being the winner. Once this tunnel is complete, work will begin on the third and final tunnel at Knighton in 2018.”
This project is the biggest that we have ever undertaken and is of huge importance to the people of Birmingham. Councillor Rice agreed, saying: “It’s brilliant to see Severn Trent investing to protect Birmingham’s water supply for generations to come.”