PIPES will be laid through Swindon in the coming weeks as part of a £25m project to save up to 10m litres of water per day being sucked from the River Kennet.

Thames Water started the project with the installation of pipes through a section at Honda of the UK Manufacturing’s home in Highworth Road at the end of August.

There are more pipes on the way, next for the section south of the M4’s Junction 15, in the vicinity of Badbury and Chiseldon.

The project was started to allay fears of the Environment Agency and Action for the River Kennet (ARK) that water removed at Axford and Ogbourne treatment works has a detrimental impact on the river, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Steve Tuck, Thames Water’s abstraction manager, said: “We’re always conscious of the need to provide our customers with a reliable source of water while protecting the environment.

“We’re really pleased to be building a new pipeline that will help us do both.

“We agree with the Environment Agency and Action for the River Kennet that we need to reduce our reliance on the Kennet and believe this pipeline will help to ensure a healthy future for this very important chalk stream, which gives so much pleasure to so many people.”

The new 18.2km drinking water pipeline will carry water from Farmoor reservoir in Oxfordshire, which takes its water from the River Thames, to Swindon.

This means Thames Water will reduce the amount of water it currently takes from the Kennet, one of only 200 chalk streams in the world and home to species like water voles and brown trout.

The pipe will cross under the M4 at Junction 15, the London to Bristol railway line at White Hart roundabout, and swerve around Durocornovium, the Roman settlement near Covingham and South Marston.

About 70 per cent of Thames Water’s drinking water supply comes from rivers and the remaining 30 per cent from groundwater sources.

The removal of this water, a process known as abstraction, is regulated by the Environment Agency through its abstraction licensing process.

Axford and Ogbourne are both groundwater sources. Thames Water supplies water to 30,000 homes in Swindon from groundwater sources.

This is water which would otherwise be available to flow into the River Kennet.

The Axford licence will be reduced from 13.1m litres per day (Ml/d) to 6 Ml/d at times when the flow in the Kennet is low.

The Ogbourne licence will be reduced to zero. Thames Water currently takes on average now about 3.5 Ml/d.

The typical diameter of the pipe will be 500mm to 600mm.