Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 11:27 UK

New pipe to secure island's water

By Matthew Treacy
BBC News, Isle of Wight

The pipes being put in the Solent
The old pipe was damaged in 2000 by a ship's anchor

Underneath the waves of the Solent something is happening which will affect everybody on the Isle of Wight.

Three years of planning is finally being realised as 2m of pipes are gently lowered beneath the waves.

It is part of the Cross Solent Main Replacement Scheme, a 15m scheme to secure vital water supplies to the island, managed by Southern Water.

The 126,000 Isle of Wight residents, and millions more who visit each year, expect fresh clean drinking water when they turn their taps on and this scheme is designed to ensure that is possible in the future.

Over the next 25 years, the island is expected to see an increase in water usage of 15%, and new pipelines are needed to meet that demand.

The first pipeline to the Isle of Wight was installed underneath the Solent in 1980, but this replacement line will be able to handle 70% more water - up to 20 million litres of water each day.

It is a complex engineering operation that started in Denmark where the pipes have been made.

The pipes being put in the Solent
The pipe will run from Lepe, Hants, to Gurnard, on the Isle of Wight

Carried by a barge across the Solent the pipes are slowly let out. They are filled with water to make them sink and are then buried under the seabed using high pressured water.

The existing pipelines will be left on the bed of the Solent because removing them may disrupt the local marine life.

Costing 1m each, and being 2km long, the two pipes are lined with specialist material.

They are wrapped in several layers of steel, which will make them flexible but also protect them while they are installed.

A concrete "mattress" will then be placed on top of the pipes to help protect them from future accidents.

In 2000, 1m of damage was caused when a ship's anchor caught the existing pipe.

It is hoped that the pipes, which run from Lepe, in Hampshire, to Gurnard, on the Isle of Wight, will help secure water supplies for the Island for future generations.

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