A PIPELINE securing water supplies for Salisbury and south Wiltshire is nearing completion as part of a £228million scheme.

The 74km Wessex Water trunk line runs from Corfe Mullen in Dorset, to Salisbury, via Blandford and Shaftesbury. It is part of the firm’s biggest and most complex project to date.

It is designed to balance supply and demand to ensure homes and businesses have a reliable source of water – but the man in charge of the scheme says most people will never notice its impact.

The trunk main enables water to be moved north from Dorset to Wiltshire and back again, depending on where there is a surplus or a shortage of supply.

It is part of a wider programme of works that includes more than 50 individual projects and has taken eight years to complete.

The firm says it will help it to ensure a reliable supply for customers – even in case of a “catastrophic failure” – and deal with dips in water quality.

During the project The Wessex Water team uncovered skeletons of humans from the late Neolithic period, Iron Age, Bronze Age and Roman era.

And while digging a new 5.6million litre storage tank at Camp Hill near Salisbury, engineers unearthed two major Iron Age enclosure ditches, believed to form part of a hill fort dating back to at least 50BC.

Drummond Modley, grid programme manager for Wessex Water, said: “The water supply grid will ensure we can meet our customer demands for the next 25 years.

“It will provide security of supply through its ability to redistribute surplus water to areas in deficit within our region, and it will also allow blending of sources to maintain water quality.”

And he said: “The pipe will transfer over 20 million litres of water a day from the south to the Salisbury area, that is equivalent to about six Olympic size pools per day.”

The firm, which claims not to have had a hosepipe ban in more than 40 years, supplies drinking water to 1.3million customers in the region every day.

Mr Modley added: “If there was a community relying on a bore hole and it goes down due to a mechanical failure or a problem with the water quality due to high nitrate levels in the ground then we would be able to bring water from a different direction. Most people won’t even notice the difference.”

He added: “It’s been a long journey but it’s been very worthwhile for our area.

“It’s brought a quality of life that’s not matched anywhere else in the UK.”

The two-foot-wide pipe runs through the Cranborne Chase, passing through the Donheads, Sedgehill and Semley, East and West Knoyle, Upper Deverill, Codford, Sherrington, Stockton, Wylye, the Langfords, Great Wishford and South Newton.