Tests have have officially begun on the storm tunnels that were put in place by United Utilities in Preston, which have been under construction in the town for the last four years. The torrential downpours that took place earlier this month caused chaos around the construction site of the tunnel and the long building time has caused a number of disgruntled road users to question if the work is really worth the disruption it has caused for so long.
The tunnel, which measures 3.5km began being tested on Tuesday 10th June. It is capable of holding 40 million litres of storm water, which is the equivalent of 16 Olympic sized swimming pools, and there are pipes that are wide enough for a car to drive through. The work comes at a cost of £160 million and it will enhance the sewer system in the city and reduce the pollution in nearby rivers.
As the flash flooding hit Preston, the system was tested to its limits and was working at full capacity. This meant that the tunnel at the height of the storm was able to pump 1,5000 litres of storm water per second out to the Wastewater Treatment Works in Preston.
A representative from United Utilities, Louisa Simpson-Brown, said
We really saw once again the environmental benefits the tunnel is having, by storing storm water which otherwise would have spilled from outfalls at Preston docks into the river. It’s difficult to get across the sheer volume of storm water we had to deal with, but the tunnel system performed exactly as designed.
Despite this, the water levels were incredibly difficult to handle. 15mm of rainwater fell in just 12 minutes, so there were areas that witnessed some flooding. The Network Manager for Untied Utilities, John Oldham, said
It was a very busy evening for us and we had teams out along with other agencies doing all we could to help those people affected.
There were also several incidents of flooding that were reported to the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. These included rainwater that had got into a lighting circuit at Red Rose Radio on St Pauls Square.
An additional six terraced houses on Garden Street suffered from having badly flooded cellars and there was severe flooding at Argyll Road that was threatening to flood the electrics. Storm water also penetrated the Preston Town Hall, although the extent of the damage is not yet know.
If you have found yourself to be affected by the roadworks or flooding in Preston in recent weeks, you should ring the United Utilities Phone Number. The team is able to provide help and support with the latest flooding and road work disruptions as well as helping you with other issues such as making a bill payment and changing your tariff.