Keeping our water pipes in tip-top condition

With over 40,000 km of water pipes serving around seven million customers throughout the North West, our teams work around the clock to keep taps flowing with great water.

Over time natural mineral deposits can build up inside the pipes which can sometimes give a yellow or brown tint to the water.  Across our region we’re carrying out an extensive range of water pipe refurbishment and cleaning which will help us continue to meet high water quality standards.

When we’re completing our work you will receive a letter or card with further details of when we’ll be in your area and how this may affect you. 

What will the work involve?

We may need to move water around our pipe network, or make some temporary changes to the direction it normally flows along our pipes to your home or business.  You may notice a change in the colour or pressure of your tap water while this takes place, and also during our cleaning or refurbishment work.

If you do experience discoloured water please don’t worry, this will be temporary and we have further advice which you'll find helpful to get your water back to normal again.

Our current programme of work

We've been busy replacing over 30km of our larger water pipes around Carlisle and we're now in the final stages of this work, you can find the latest updates about our pipe replacement work in Carlisle here We're due to start cleaning the smaller water pipes in mid-April and will be flushing or using high pressure air methods to carry out this work overnight. In those areas where we'll be using the air method of cleaning this will require a short period where your water will need to be turned off, we'll always send a letter before the work takes place to let you know the date and times when the water will be off.

Our first phase of work will involve cleaning the pipes in the Kingsmoor area of the city which started on Tuesday 13 April. We'll continue moving across different areas of Carlisle and expect to have finished all the work by the end of the year.

Pipe cleaning work

A programme of overnight flushing work started in February 2021 in various locations across the region and will run through to the end of April 2021.

The work takes place each evening between 11pm until 5.30am the following morning as our team move through the area in stages to flush the pipes.  This usually takes between two to four weeks to complete but this is dependent on weather conditions and the length of pipes on that particular area of the water network. Work does not take place on Friday or Saturday evenings and we'll send out cards to let you know when we're planning to clean the pipes in your area.

We'll be working in the following areas:

  • Wigan - in progress
  • Oldham - in progress
  • Middleton - in progress
  • Wallasey - in progress
  • Moreton - completed  
  • Bury - completed
  • Stockport - completed
  • Bramhall - completed


  • Lowry Hill - in progress
  • Moorhouse - due to start on 26 April
  • Carleton - due to start on 4 May

Thank you for your patience while our teams work to provide even cleaner tap water for your area. If you have any further queries about our work please get in touch on 0345 672 3723  quoting the project number from the letter or card you have received. We’ll be happy to help.

Looking after the water in your home

It's our job to get the water from it's natural source and safely to your home but there are things you can do to ensure that the water you drink, cook with and wash in is of the very best quality. You can find out more about looking after the water in your home.

  • Sampling

    Our work begins with collecting water samples from specific points along our pipe network.  This involves opening valves or hydrants and filling sample bottles to help us monitor water quality and plan our future work effectively.  This will also help us to determine the most appropriate cleaning or refurbishment technique.

    We’ll also collect water samples along the network following our refurbishment or cleaning work taking place to ensure this has resulted in water quality improvements.


  • Refurbishment

    In some areas we’ll be replacing entire sections of water pipe.  We use a variety of construction methods, but in most instances this involves inserting new smaller diameter pipe inside the existing older pipe – a method known as slip lining which is quicker and less disruptive to the community and road users.

    In some areas we may need to completely remove sections of old pipe and replace with new pipe – a method known as open cut.  Unfortunately this can be more disruptive as we’ll need to open up larger areas of the ground so we can lay the new pipe, which may need traffic management or temporary road closures.


  • Flushing

    This work often takes place over night when there is less demand for water.  It involves using high pressure water jetting or opening hydrants to flush the pipes and remove the mineral deposits from the pipe network. As this is less disruptive and much quicker we can clean larger areas of our network.

  • Air scour

    We may use another method to clean the pipes which involves taking a section of pipe out of use and passing high pressure jets of air through to help remove mineral deposits. This may require interruptions to water supplies, but we’ll always give prior notification to any customers before any work takes place to provide the date and time when the water would need to be temporarily turned off. 

Advice to help if your water is discoloured

We’re really sorry if you experience any changes to the colour of your water. You can find advice on how to get things back to normal using the link below. 

Find out more