Plymouth wakes up to a silent revolution as new water works takes over

Plymouth is waking up to a silent revolution – with all its drinking water coming from a new hi-tech treatment works for the first time.

South West Water’s £60 million Mayflower plant at Roborough is the first of its kind in the world.

The company has run down its 1950s plant at Crownhill over the past few months, with the new facility gradually supplying more water.

But today (Wednesday) is the first time that more than 250,000 people will taste water just from the Mayflower works.

It uses cutting-edge treatment processes, designed to produce up to 90 million litres of drinking a water a day and to be more sustainable than a traditional water treatment works.

The innovative treatment processes at Mayflower were designed and developed by Dutch water technology company PWNT, and tested at a prototype facility at Crownhill from June 2013 until June 2015.

South West Water’s Mayflower Water Treatment Works in Plymouth.
(Image: Mike Abrahams)

Suspended ion exchange, inline coagulation and ceramic membrane microfiltration are used to produce more water, more efficiently and at a lower cost than traditional technology.

It is the first time that these combined technologies have been used to produce high-quality drinking water anywhere in the world.

Mayflower has been producing treated water since August, which has been blended with water from Crownhill to ensure a smooth transition for customers.

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James King, South West Water’s director of operations for drinking water services, said: “It has been years in the making – planning, building and commissioning – but today is a truly significant milestone for South West Water, our customers and the wider water industry.

“We already produce some of the highest quality drinking water in the UK, but Mayflower does so extremely consistently and efficiently.

A worker inside South West Water's new £60 million treatment works at Roborough
A worker inside South West Water’s new £60 million treatment works at Roborough
(Image: South West Water)
Crews from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service practice their skills during a fire service training exercise at the Mayflower works
Crews from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service practice their skills during a fire service training exercise at the Mayflower works
(Image: SWNS.com)

“Mayflower will meet the needs of Plymouth’s growing population and provide a secure, high-quality drinking water supply for the wider Plymouth area for generations to come.”

Work to build the Mayflower plant started in 2016 with the main construction work complete by the end of 2018.

Between 50 to100 people were employed during build and 150 people at the height of construction.

The works is designed to treat up to 90 million litres of water a day, from sources including Burrator reservoir, the River Tavy and the River Tamar.

The name was suggested by South West Water’s late Managing Director, Dr Stephen Bird, and was the clear winner of a South West Water staff vote

A formal celebration of the opening of the new works is being planned for when the current COVID-19 situation eases.

Plymouth Live