Multimillion pound works on major projects aimed on improving the water quality in brooks around Bolton is set to get under way.

The £38 million works on four projects will be undertaken by United Utilities across three sites in Astley Bridge, Dunscar Bridge and Firwood Industrial Estate.

This will be aimed at reducing the number of times that storm overflows operate in heavy rainfall from across the three sites. 

Storm overflows are designed to act as relief valves when the sewerage system is at risk of being overwhelmed, such as during heavy downpours when a lot of rainwater runs into drains and the sewerage system in a short space of time, says Ofwat.

If the system does get overwhelmed it can cause flooding or even backing up into people’s homes in the worst-case scenario.

To prevent that happening water companies sometimes use storm overflows to release extra rainwater and wastewater into rivers or seas.

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “A network of two storage tunnels will be built between Firwood industrial estate, Bolton Arboretum and Longsight Park. 

“The tunnels will be able to store more than 3500 cubic meters of storm water, which is the equivalent of nearly one and a half Olympic size swimming pools.

The Bolton News: Bolton Wastewater Treatment WorksBolton Wastewater Treatment Works (Image: Google Maps)

“A tunnelling machine will be used to create the huge storage tunnel and the project will improve water quality in Bradshaw Brook.

“The park and arboretum will both remain open to the public throughout the construction but there will be footpath diversions and alternative access arrangements.

“The project at Astley Bridge will see a 400 cubic meter storage tank built in Haywood’s Hollow. 

“As well as extra storage, a new screen will be fitted to the overflow to help improve the water quality in Astley Brook.

“Whilst at Dunscar Bridge a 200 cubic meter storage meter tank with a screen will be built to help improve the water quality in Eagley Brook and Gale Brook.”

Work is due to be completed at all three sites by March 2025. 

The latest projects come after United Utilities started work in a separate project at its treatments works in Bolton.

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The company says this will increase the capacity of the works, improve the treatment processes at the plant and reduce the time that the storm overflow operates.

United Utilities says it is also proposing to invest £13.7billion in delivering cleaner rivers, more reliable water supplies and extra support for people struggling with bills in the North West.

These measures have all been proposed as part of the company’s draft business plan for 2025-2030.

Regulator Ofwat will review the proposals and give its draft response by June 2024 with the final plans set to be agreed by December 2024.