Abconnexions | The Main Event – NWL
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The Main Event- NWL

What is The Main Event?

We are carrying out a major programme of work to clean and upgrade our trunk water mains to further reduce the likelihood of discoloured water in the Northumberland and Tyne regions.Trunk water mains are large diameter pipes which transfer water around the region. Over a period of time, harmless sediment can build up on the inside of water mains and may result in customers receiving discoloured water. Although this isn’t harmful to health, we appreciate it is not acceptable or pleasant.

What are we doing?

We are investing £66 million in a scheme to clean 400 kilometres of trunk water mains and smaller diameter pipes which directly supply water to one million customers.Since starting the scheme in 2007, we’ve improved tap water quality for around 500,000 customers in Northumberland and the north of Newcastle.

For more detailed information and to watch a demonstration of ice pigging, please visit

The next phase started in February 2012 and will take up to three years to complete. We are cleaning trunk water mains in the lower Tyne Valley, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Gateshead regions which will improve tap water quality to around 500,000 customers in these areas. We are also going to take the opportunity to flush out smaller diameter pipes, which directly supply water to properties to complete the ‘source to tap’ cleaning programme.

How are we doing it?

Before isolating and cleaning a section of pipe, water will be moved around the network to maintain the water supply to customers. Our usual method of cleaning involves a section of pipe being emptied, cleaned, refilled and disinfected. Water quality samples and pressure tests will be completed before the water main is returned to service.

The technique chosen to clean a section of pipe will depend on what the pipe is made of, its lining and its location (urban or rural). The cleaning methods can include pressure jetting and scraping with spring-loaded metal blades.

We are also the first company to trial and use a new, innovative method called ice pigging. This involves pumping slushy ice into the isolated pipe which is then compacted and pushed through the pipe by the water pressure on each side, as it moves through the pipe, the ice scrapes the sediment off the pipe walls. Using ice is much quicker as we don’t have to empty the section of pipe we are cleaning, and refill it, as with other cleaning methods. The holes we dig to access water pipes, to enable the cleaning, are much smaller. Both of these benefits result in less disruption to our customers.

For more detailed information and to watch a demonstration of ice pigging, please visit