A new booster station in a farm on the edge of Swindon has been built by Thames Water to look like a barn to blend in with its surroundings.
The £3m camouflaged kit, on the eastern side of the A419, will transfer water from Blunsdon reservoir to Whitefield reservoir to help serve thousands of customers in the Swindon area.
It is one of three new stations built as part of Thames Water’s Axford pipeline project, which will see groundwater extraction greatly reduced at Axford water works and cease completely at Ogbourne, in order to meet new Environment Agency requirements to protect the River Kennet.
The river is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and one of only 200 chalk streams in the world, home to wildlife such as water voles and brown trout.
Thames Water project manager Stephen Doell said: “The new booster station is clad in plastic mixed with woodchip, and it’s one of the best I’ve seen in terms of blending in. We’re committed to being good neighbours, and always do what we can to work with local groups to ensure the best possible outcome for our customers and the environment.”
Charlotte Hitchmough, spokesperson for Action for the River Kennet (ARK), added: “We’re delighted this new pipeline will protect the little River Og and the River Kennet downstream from Marlborough during low flows.
“Chalk streams are unique and important habitats and ARK has campaigned for more than 20 years to reduce the amount of water exported from these rivers. The pipeline is very welcome and we congratulate Thames Water and the Environment Agency for making it possible.”
The £30 million Axford project involves 17km of pipeline which crosses a railway, a number of roads and goes under the M4, plus three new booster stations. As well as this ‘barn’ booster station, Ogbourne water treatment works is being replaced with a booster station and another is being installed at Whitefield reservoir to pump water up the hill there.
As of March 31, pumping will cease at Ogbourne, and the amount taken at Axford water works will be reduced during periods of low flow. Swindon’s water supply will instead be supported with water from Blunsdon and Farmoor reservoirs, via the new pipeline. The new pipeline is expected to prevent up to 10 million litres of water of groundwater, which could otherwise feed the River Kennet, being extracted daily during low flow periods.