Turning the taps on million-pound investment in Devizes

A £1 million upgrade to pipes carrying water to homes and businesses in Devizes will get under way in August, as the ongoing major investment in the network in Wiltshire continues to gather pace.

Work to replace cast-iron mains with plastic pipes to ensure a more reliable future water supply and reduce the risk of leaks will begin this summer – the first phase of a seven-figure overhaul of supply services throughout the historic market town over the next two years.

The extensive project will maintain Wessex Water’s commitment to improve water quality throughout its supply region, with more than £8 million a year currently being spent on replacing ageing water mains.

Already in 2023 a £250,000 project to re-lay more than a kilometre of water main in the village of Southwick to the west side of Trowbridge has been completed, with a further £500,000 also invested to upgrade supply pipes in the village of Staverton this year.

In total, more than two kilometres of pipes will be replaced throughout the centre of Devizes before April 2025, with each phase being carefully planned to ensure the minimum amount of disruption on the local community.

Wessex Water's Director of Construction and Infrastructure Maintenance, Eddie Rant, said: "In some cases, the ageing cast-iron water mains throughout Devizes are degrading and leaking, which causes quality issues such as discoloured water and poor pressure for our customers.

"By investing heavily in replacing them with new plastic pipes, we can ensure that the water supply is improved, more reliable and of a better quality for many years to come

“Throughout our region, we supply more than 282 million litres of water every day to 1.4 million customers and 44,000 businesses and we’re continuously investing in our supply network, by renewing ageing water mains and maintaining and improving facilities, as well as maintaining our targets for cutting leaks."

The opening phase of the Devizes project was due to get under way in early August, with teams replacing supply pipes in Sidmouth Street, Sheep Street, Bridewell Street, Long Street and Morris Lane in Devizes. 

However, following discussions with Devizes Town Council and Wiltshire Council, Wessex Water has agreed to push back the start of the work to accommodate the route of the town's carnival on 2 September. 

The work, which will continue for 27 weeks before finishing in early March of next year, will be split, allowing one section to be completed and roads reopened before moving on to the next.

A further three phases will follow, from March, June and September of 2024 before the entire scheme is completed by April 2025.

Wessex Water project manager Jamie Prangle said: "We recognise that this is a major investment in improving the water supply throughout Devizes and we’re working closely with customers, businesses and Wiltshire Council to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum as much as possible.

"Where possible, we will be keeping roads open to through traffic and working with local people to ensure their access is unhindered but where we do need to shut routes, we will be completing the work quickly and safely and reopening them as we finish."

"We've been meeting with and writing to customers and businesses directly and this will continue throughout the course of the scheme and we’re also inviting them to come and meet with us to view the scheme plans and answer any questions they may have."

Wessex Water will be holding three public drop-in sessions throughout July for the local community to find out more about the investment.

The first of them takes place on Wednesday 5 July at Devizes Town Hall, between 2-8pm. The project team will also be embedded at Devizes Market in the centre of the town on Thursday 13 July and Thursday 20 July between 9am and 3pm to present the scheme plans and answer questions.