United Utilities is the North West’s water company and is responsible for managing the water and wastewater networks across the region. It is also one of the region’s major employers with more than 5000 staff helping to keep the taps flowing and loos flushing for its 7 million customers. Cumbria is at the heart of what the company does. Not only does it contain some of Britain’s most stunning scenery, but it’s also the source of much of the precious water in the North West.

To ensure it is safeguarding the natural environment across the Lake District, United Utilities is undertaking one of the biggest engineering projects in its history to link West Cumbria with the rest of its regional supply network. The works will help provide customers with a more resilient water supply for generations to come.

The West Cumbria Supplies project started in 2017 and is due for completion next year. It has seen the construction of a major new pipeline that totals 100km and stretches from Thirlmere to the west coast via a new water treatment works at Williamsgate. Two new pumping stations and two underground service reservoirs have also been built.

As Project Director, John Hilton has had to balance the needs of the project with fulfilling the environmental and planning conditions associated with it. “This is the first time we’ve built a pipeline like this in the middle of a national park. There are very few environmental processes and procedures for something on this scale, so we’ve had to develop and write an entire environmental protection plan for the scheme,” he says.

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The project has a target to make sure that 40 per cent of the land disturbed by the pipeline is reinstated. Soil excavated as part of the work has been used to landscape sites like the water treatment works at Williamsgate, so it blends in to the local surroundings. John says this has also helped remove the need to transport it off-site, therefore reducing emissions and traffic disruption.

The scheme has also benefited companies in the area. Local firms working on the project include Waitings Marine and Civil Engineers of Penrith and Chubby Construction of Carlisle. John says the project has also created an estimated 250 jobs through the supply chain required for the work and accommodating staff, which can number as many as 700 at any one time.

United Utilities has also worked closely with local communities and partner organisations to support with training and skills in the area and especially those young people who are not in education, employment, or training. By providing work experience and education on the scheme, eight youngsters have manager to secure jobs with the company.

Despite the pandemic, the company has also continued to take on apprentices across the region. It welcomed 56 new apprentices in January, and has since recruited a further 46 apprentices and 24 graduates, with 24 more customer service apprentices due to start in October. Two apprentices from a previous intake have worked directly on the West Cumbria project.

It is also involved in the Government’s kick starter programme for 16-24-year olds who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long term unemployment. The youngsters from across the North West will have the opportunity to join United Utilities on a six month placement. These new employees will work in teams such as customer services or in laboratory services. As well as the chance to learn new skills there are some full time roles available within the company.

With a large customer call centre in Whitehaven and a variety of roles across Cumbria, United Utilities is a fantastic option for those looking to further their careers.

For the latest opportunities visit unitedutilities.comcorporate/careers