A £1.3m project to boost water supplies for thousands of people in South Lakeland gets underway on Monday (January 20).

United Utilities needs to complete a two kilometre link main near Haverthwaite to improve services to around 6,000 people.

The work will involve two temporary road closures, and sign-posted diversions.

A public information event will take place at St Anne’s Church Hall in Haverthwaite between 3pm and 7pm on Thursday February 6. Anyone is welcome to drop in and look at plans or talk to project staff.

Project co-ordinator Bill Slater said the scheme was vital to prevent winter water shortages in places like Coniston, Hawkshead, Grizedale, Greenodd, Haverthwaite and the Crake and Rusland Valleys.

“At the moment all these communities get their water supply from a reservoir high above Coniston called Levers Water. It’s usually a reliable source of water but it is high in the mountains and in the winter, when the water starts to freeze, it can be harder to treat in the quantities people need.

“Our new pipe will connect people to the huge regional network of pipes fed by Haweswater reservoir, which will give much more reliable water supplies whatever the weather. It’s the sort of essential project their water bills help pay for,” he said.

The pipe will run along the B5278 from near Bigland Wood to Low Wood Bridge where it will divert into farmland around Haverthwaite village and pass under the A590 before re-joining the road at Lane Ends, along The Causeway and ending at Pool Bridge.

There will be two temporary local road closures.

February 24 until March 23: B5278 between Low Wood Bridge and Bigland Hall Caravan Park. Diversions will be signposted via the B5277 to Grange, B5271 Lindale and the A590.

March 5 to 28: Lane Ends to the Causeway, north of Haverthwaite. Diversion via local roads.

Access will be maintained at all times for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists. There will be no impact on the A590, which will be crossed by laying the new pipe inside an existing underpass.

“Originally we wanted to use traffic lights south of Haverthwaite but the road is so narrow we think it would be too risky for our engineers or other road users. By working weekends we will get the work done in a fraction of the time it would take with traffic lights and we hope to re-open the road as quickly as possible,” said Bill.

“It will be a headache for commuters. It is not a decision we have taken lightly. It comes only after a full health and safety review. Our main priority now is to let as many people know as possible and we will be happy to answer any questions at our information evening.”

The project, including testing is expected to be complete by the end of May 2014.