Bristol Water has announced a new £27 million water infrastructure project that will provide an alternative supply route to 280,000 people across Somerset, and cater for the predicted rise in population of the region.

The company’s Southern Resilience Scheme (SRS) is due to start late this summer and be completed by March 2018. It includes a new 30km water main between Barrow Gurney and Cheddar, via Banwell, as well as upgrades to the pumping station at Cheddar and the reservoir at Hutton.

This will result in a much more secure water supply for 280,000 people because the new infrastructure will enable Bristol Water to supply Cheddar, Banwell, Burnham, Weston-super-Mare and Glastonbury via more than one route. In the event of a burst main, water will be supplied via the second main to keep customers in water.

The population of Somerset and North Somerset is expected to grow by more than 100,000 people by 2030, making it one of Europe’s fastest growing areas. This new main will help Bristol Water keep the area in water with this massive increase in demand.

Bristol Water narrowed down the route of the main from 50 to eight feasible options, from which the current route was chosen. The design team had to consider the impact of every part of the scheme on the environment, communities and customers and have come up with an interesting mix of old and new engineering solutions to overcome the many obstacles, including the airport, ancient woodlands and Mendip Hills. The final route also minimises the impact on major commuter routes such as the A38 and A370.

One of the biggest engineering accomplishments of the scheme is the ability to use gravity, rather than pumping, to get water from Barrow all the way to Cheddar. This dramatically reduces the energy usage and means the pumping station in Barrow Gurney does not need to be upgraded. This will also keep the running costs of the main lower once in operation.

The project team is currently liaising with the relevant local authorities with regard to an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Gary Freake, network director at Bristol Water: said: “This scheme is vital to the future of Somerset’s water supply. Unfortunately bursts happen; we have an ageing network, over 150 years old in places, but this investment will make bursts less frequent and help us keep people in water if we do have problems.

“We understand that there will be some disruption to people in the short-term, but we have done all we can to minimise this and we are proud of what this design achieves. Hopefully people understand that the long-term benefits of this scheme far outweigh the minimal short-term disruption.”

This story originally appeared on WWTonline.co.uk