HARP wins Ground Investigation Project of the Year

The landmark Haweswater Aqueduct Resilience Programme (HARP) has won the Ground Investigation Project of the Year at the 2021 Ground Engineering Awards.

The 110km Haweswater Aqueduct has provided drinking water for people living in North West England for over sixty years. The HARP programme is a major feat of engineering which will see six tunnelled sections (approximately 50km of the overall length) of the aqueduct replaced.

The project won the award for its credentials in innovation, quality, sustainability, health and safety and value engineering.

A dedicated HARP Ground Engineering Team was established to design, procure and manage extensive ground investigations and geophysical surveys over two phases. The integrated team comprised 55 staff from United Utilities, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald, British Geological Survey (BGS) and Wardell Armstrong (WA).

The HARP Ground Engineering Team and ground investigation framework contactors (AEG, Geotechnics, SEGL and Socotec) and their sub-contractors, including Fugro, and the ecological team (United Utilities, Bowland Ecology and TEP), worked together with a common approach to technical quality, health, safety and the environment. This included regular workshops to improve drilling practices in the highly complex and variable ground conditions encountered across the scheme.

By running the ground investigations concurrently across the six tunnel sections, the team delivered the ground investigations in under two years, a considerable achievement for a scheme of this scale. The team also optimised the technical output of every borehole to minimise the number of boreholes required, whilst also maximising the value of the information obtained.

The ground investigations were meticulously designed for each tunnel section to ensure that the appropriate borehole drilling techniques, in situ testing and suites of laboratory testing were undertaken for the expected ground conditions to provide the required ground data.

The exceptional scale of the investigation produced huge quantities of geotechnical, hydrogeological, geoenvironmental and geophysical data. This was captured in a central database, under the control of a data manager.

Neil Gillespie, United Utilities’ Director of Strategic Programmes, said: “This is a great accolade for the United Utilities team and its partners. 

“The national restrictions on work and travel imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic had the potential to significantly delay the ground investigation fieldwork activities which would have had wider project implications.

“However, due to the flexible and collaborative working of all parties involved on this important infrastructure project, the impacts were minimised, enabling the works to continue largely uninterrupted.

“The combined ground engineering team, and all of our contractors, worked together to develop new systems to ensure the works continued in a safe manner, which we fully endorsed. These included Perspex screens on rigs to separate the driller from the crew, new lifting tools to maintain a safe social separation, segregated areas in the logging compounds and social distancing signs to name a few.

“This award is testament to the power of partnership working,” added Neil.