United Utilities responds to burst pipe at Fleetwood wastewater treatment works

United Utilities is carrying out urgent repair work to a burst pipe which carries water after it has been treated and cleaned from Fleetwood wastewater treatment works to the sea.

The treatment works is currently running at a reduced rate while engineers plan and carry out the repair work to the pipe which lies nine metres underground. Due to the location and complexity of the repair and to ensure the work is carried out safely, this is expected to take some time while engineers install  temporary pumps and 2,000 metres of overland pipework. 

United Utilities is balancing storage levels in the wastewater network along the Fylde Coast and using tankers around the clock to help reduce pressure on the site by transporting wastewater to other treatment sites.

Unfortunately, during last night’s short and sharp thunderstorms that saw nearly 40mm of rain fall in around two hours, the system temporarily reached full capacity at sites in Blackpool and untreated sewage, mixed with rainwater, was released into the sea. 

Blackpool Council, Fylde Council and Wyre Council are advising that the public should not swim at the following beaches until further notice: 

  • Bispham
  • Blackpool Central
  • Blackpool North 
  • Blackpool South 
  • Cleveleys beach
  • Fleetwood
  • St Annes
  • St Annes North

Mark Garth, Wastewater Director, at United Utilities, said: “This is a very unusual incident and our teams are working around the clock to minimise any impact on the environment. The burst occurred on a large pipe which is deep underground, making the repair complex and challenging. We are installing temporary overland pipework to bypass the burst pipe so that the treatment plant can continue to operate while the repair work is carried out.

“The reduced capacity at the treatment works and in our network as a result of this burst meant there was less storage available than normal to deal with the heavy rainfall last night. This resulted in storm overflows operating. We are working closely with the Environment Agency and local councils as we respond to this.”

Information on all 424 designated bathing water sites and any forecasted drops in water quality are published on the Swimfo: Find a Bathing Water website. This provides immediate access to information on every bathing water in England. 

Construction of the temporary overland pipework means that the neighbouring Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve is unfortunately closed to the public until further notice.