Changing the water main in Haywards Heath is quite a challenge, but the essential work is on schedule.
South East Water’s project to install a 400m pipe is causing parts of South Road to close for 18 weeks.
Stuart McIncegart, project manager at South East Water, said: “The current water main on South Road has to the end of its useful life.
“It bursts on a regular basis, it’s disruptive and causes flooding.”
The water main has burst six times in the past five years.
South East Water are working around a yellow gas pipe, the sewer, the old gas pipe, electicity cables, BT cables and more.
The project manager explained: “There’s a mountain of stuff, that’s why the trench is in the middle and we have to close off so much of the road.
“There’s half a metre of concrete under the tarmac, which is not normal but some busy roads need to be stronger.
“Some people think changing a water main would be easy, but it’s quite a challenge, we’ve found a lot of stuff in the ground and it’s not slowing us down,” he added.
Once workers dig through the tarmac and concrete, they weld six metre lengths of pipe together, which is then lowered down into the trench and surrounded by sand and shingle.
They then test the pipe for leaks with a pressure that would spout water 50m into the air. The pipe is chlorinated to clean and then filled with fresh water, of which a sample is taken and sent to a laboratory to be tested.
Mr McIncegart said: “We make sure we’re confident that it’s clean, and safe to use and drink.”
The properties are then attached to the main, which takes only 10 minutes per house. The project has been criticised for running slightly before a new relief road opens, which would reduce traffic congestion.
But the project manager explained that having to coordinate with the Highways Agency and other utilities such as BT, electric and gas made it impossible to delay the work. Campaign and media officer Jo Shippey added that the company did not want to affect Christmas trade for local businesses.
Mr McIncegart continued: “We work hard to reduce the impact, nobody likes the road being closed.”
He also explained that the diversion is working well, and the site is transient so the workers are not parked outside the same shops for 18 weeks.