A YEAR-LONG work programme will begin this month to replace FIVE MILES of crumbling water mains in Glasgow city centre.
The scheme will cost £3.5million and will affect almost every road, from Renfrew Street in the north to Waterloo Street in the south, and from West Nile Street in the east to Wellington Street in the west.
It will also extend through Nelson Mandela Place and West George Street as far as George Square.
The ageing pipes supply water to thousands of homes and businesses but many date to the Victorian era. In recent years, a number have suffered bursts, causing disruption to supplies.
Scottish Water officials say the upgrade, which will start towards the end of this month, will reduce the risk of bursts and inconvenience to customers, road users and pedestrians.
It will also help provide cleaner, fresher drinking water to properties in the area.
The vast majority of the work will involve pulling heavy-duty plastic pipes through the existing pipe works, which is mainly made of cast iron.
Scottish Water says a small amount of the work will involve excavating roads to allow existing pipes to be removed and replaced.
The streets that will be most affected include George Street, Hope Street, Bath Street, Renfield Street, St Vincent Street, Wellington Street and Sauchiehall Street.
The replacement programme has been targeted at pipes where there has been a history of bursts.
Short sections of traffic lanes will be closed while work is under way, but there are no plans to close any roads.
Work will start in the Sauchiehall Street and Renfield Street area and will continue on a rolling programme.
Scottish Water says it will do everything possible to minimise disruption but admits there are likely to be traffic delays.
Geoff Aitkenhead, the company's asset management director, said: "This major investment is great news for Glasgow and underlines Scottish Water's commitment to supporting the regeneration of the city and improving our infrastructure in the city centre.
"It will benefit our customers for many years to come."
The firm says any shortterm disruption caused while work is under way will be far outweighed by the long-term benefits of the upgrade.
It has consulted the city council about its plans and insists it will continue to liaise with the council and other key organisations, businesses and customers before and during the work.
Patricia Melly, the utility company's project manager, said: "We will work to complete this important project as quickly and efficiently as possible.
"Some inconvenience is unavoidable during a major project of this type, but we will do everything possible to minimise this."
CHARLENE McBride, regional community manager for Glasgow, added: "We stress that any short-term inconvenience will be surpassed by the benefits this upgrade will provide for many years to come."
The new investment follows a £1.8m project that started in January to install seven pressure control valves to cut the number of bursts by better management of water pressure in the city's main water network.
A spokesman said: "Both projects will lead to a reduction in leakage and the amount of water we have to produce at the Milngavie and Balmore water treatment works, which serve most of Greater Glasgow.
"This will reduce our operating costs and carbon emissions and improve our overall efficiency."
l Scottish Water is holding information events at The Lighthouse, in Mitchell Lane, from July 10-12 from 2-8pm.
People are invited to drop in and speak to the project team.