OCU continues to strengthen its water capability with major contract win

Leading utilities and energy infrastructure specialist, OCU Group, has won a major contract that will contribute to the delivery of high quality drinking water to customers and communities across Cheshire, Merseyside and the North West.

United Utilities has appointed OCU to complete a new phase of work on the Vyrnwy Aqueduct as part of their overarching modernisation programme. The aqueduct was constructed in 1892 and runs from Lake Vyrnwy in Powys to Prescot in Merseyside.

OCU is set to start work on site this month to enhance one of three one-metre diameter parallel pipelines; a project that is expected to take around a year to complete. This marks the second of three phases on the aqueduct, with over 40% of the pipeline already refurbished and the remaining length from Malpas to Merseyside due for completion in 2028.

OCU’s Utility Services division has already undertaken preparatory works between Tarporley and Norton to allow high-pressure water jetting works to proceed, including the installation of flushing and water sampling points along the line. Jetting is a non-invasive solution that cleans and clears pipes by effectively clearing material and natural mineral build-up from the system. The minerals don’t pose any health risks, but can result in discolouration of the water if disturbed and be detrimental to the internal condition of the pipe. Before and after the jetting of the line, water samples are taken to demonstrate the impact of the cleaning process.

Adrian O’Sullivan, Managing Director of OCU Utility Services, said:

“Supporting United Utilities to deliver vital modernisation to the Vyrnwy Aqueduct represents a significant step in our ambition to become a leader in the delivery of critical water infrastructure across the UK.

“The modernisation will provide a reliable and long-term supply of high-quality drinking water to parts of North Wales and Merseyside. It’s fantastic that OCU can play a fundamental role in creating a resilient water network for United Utilities and their customers.”

At each stage, OCU say they remain committed to sustainability, innovation and social responsibility. In addition to managing ecology in the area, water used throughout the programme of works will be recycled wherever possible to keep OCU’s carbon footprint as low as possible.

Ahead of breaking ground, OCU has been working closely with United Utilities to consult and engage with businesses, residents and other stakeholders in the community to create awareness and gather views on how to best mitigate disruption and any impact on the surrounding environment.

Will Eyre, Programme Manager at United Utilities, commented:

“The Vyrnwy Aqueduct is an incredible feat of engineering that supplies high quality water to customers across the region. The modernisation programme, which involves cleaning and relining the pipelines, is well underway, and we’re pleased to have OCU confirmed for this section.

“OCU demonstrated an innovative and agile approach to both managing and delivering essential works on the programme, and we’re looking forward to working collaboratively throughout this activity, which will support our network for years to come.”

The contract award further demonstrates OCU’s extensive credentials within the water sector and follows a recent contract win with Affinity Water on the Water Retaining Structures (WRS) framework and additional project awards on Yorkshire Water’s Customer Focussed Infrastructure framework.

It also follows the recent acquisition of innovative water-based expert Northavon, and the renewal of a 2km water pipe including Horizontal Directional Drilling for Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water under the River Dee.

To find out about the Vyrnwy Aqueduct Modernisation Programme, visit: https://uuhub.co.uk/vyrnwy/


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