CHESHIRE rivers are set to benefit from a huge £19 billion programme to clear up water from United Utilities.

The water provider announced on Tuesday (March 12) a road map showing how it will deliver cleaner rivers, beaches and lakes across the North West – the biggest investment of its kind in the UK.

By 2050 the goal is to ensure that storm overflows, the relief points that prevent sewers from backing up and flooding homes and businesses in heavy rain, each operate less than 10 times a year.

The Storm Overflow Reduction Plan, expected to cost some £19 billion in the North West region alone, will meet the new requirements of the Environment Act 2021, bringing a massive reduction in sewer pollution entering the region’s waterways. 

The provider added that work has already started at some of the highest priority sites and by 2030 more than 430 storm overflows will be improved.

Jo Harrison, asset management director at United Utilities, said:  “Our purpose is very clear – we don’t just supply water, we also want to make the North West greener, stronger and healthier.

“The multi-billion-pound programme we are now embarking upon will see the biggest overhaul of the region’s sewer network in a century. 

“Not only is this now enshrined in law, but it is also what our customers expect and it’s the right thing to do.”

The first phase of the Storm Overflow Reduction Plan will take place up to 2030, and will involve £3 billion of improvements at 437 sites across the North West.

In Cheshire there will be improvements to 63 storm overflows, representing an investment of £420m.

These include projects like the £50m investment currently under way at the Waste Water Treatment Works at Prestbury which serves the Macclesfield area.

A new storm surge storage tank is being built at the site which is also being upgraded to increase its capacity, including innovative new technology which will treat the wastewater to even higher standards.

It will all lead to a cleaner River Bollin.

Ms Harrison added: “We are making a fundamental change to the way our sewer system has been designed and change on this scale cannot happen overnight.

“We are re-plumbing our drainage systems, building storage tanks to increase the capacity, separating rainwater out of sewers, and harnessing the power of nature to treat storm water before it is returned to the environment.

“Work has already started, and people are going to see much more of this over the next 25 years.”

 For further information, and to view the Storm Overflow Reduction Plan dashboard, visit