‘Pigs’ clean huge underground motorway beneath Lancashire

THE region’s water firm is splashing the cash cleaning huge underground water highways part of a £3.6bn investment to improve tap water quality.

Water chiefs have employed a herd of “pigs” to help clean a huge underground water pipeline in Lancashire.

The pigs, named Big Mumma, Daisy Mae, Penelope and Jimmy Dean are based at United Utilities’ water treatment works in Franklaw, North of Preston.

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They are being used to clean a massive underground water motorway across the region.

But before animal lovers get worried, the “pigs” are, in fact, soft bullet shaped polyurethane foam plugs that are forced through pipelines to clean them.

Each pig has a different surface coating and hardness to ensure naturally built-up deposits on the inside of the water pipe are carefully removed.

John Butcher, water supplies and aqueducts manager said: “Big Mumma can be a nightmare, at one point we thought we’d lost her in the pipe she just won’t come out. She loved the water that much; she can easily out trot her brothers and sisters.

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“We are using technology from the North Sea oil and gas pipelines to keep a track on the herd, as they can go a bit wild.

“It’s the biggest cleaning job ever performed by a UK water firm using pigs. Each pig is 1.4m and 1.2m in diameter and can travel up to 22km once inside the water main. The scheme ensures thousands of homes across the North West have clean quality water when they turn on their taps.”

United is spending millions of pounds on the scheme of works, part of its £3.6 billion pound investment programme across the region to improve the security and supply of drinking water.