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A 44-tonne drilling platform has made a temporary appearance on Windermere - but engineers are not looking for oil.
The 12m square platform is surveying the lake bed as part of a £5m scheme by water company United Utilities.
"We need to drill five boreholes in Parsonage Bay along the route of a new pipe which we are building there next year," explained Project Manager Roger Woodcock.
"The boreholes will tell us what the ground conditions under the lake bed are like, so that we can decide how best to design and construct our new pipe."
The platform was constructed in the lake at Lakeside, near Newby Bridge, before being towed up Windermere by two Cumbria class launches operated by Windermere Lake Cruises on Friday November 4.
This journey took several hours, after which the platform will be in place for up to two weeks carrying out surveys at five points from just offshore to about 150m into the lake.
It is all part of an essential scheme to improve the local sewer network in Bowness so it can cope better with huge volumes of rainwater.
United Utilities is building a new underground pumping station, which, coupled with the new pipe, will help sewers at the Glebe deal with around twice as much rain as they do at the moment.
Colourful hoardings surround the site on the Glebe where a new underground pumping station is taking place and engineers are being extra careful to make sure the essential work does little to interfere with the visitor experience.
The company is only working over winter and will temporarily stop work and restore the Glebe from the end of March until after the school holidays.
Nigel Wilkinson of Windermere Lake Cruises, which is based on the Glebe and towed the barge into position,, said: "The Glebe is still a great place to visit and there’s lots to see and do. The drilling platform itself is quite something to see. It’s not something you expect on Windermere and it’s attracting a lot of comment.”
Drilling operations will be carried out by specialist geotechnical survey firm Fugro Engineering Services Ltd and sister company Fugor Seacore Ltd and managed by United Utilities and its contractor KMI Plus.
"The drilling platform is known as a jack-up barge. Once floated into position, it lifts itself clear of the water on four 18m long legs which sit on the lake bed," said United Utilities' Senior Geotechnical Engineer Dr Mark Edmondson.
Added Roger: "We have worked very closely with the Windermere Lake Users Forum to make sure it doesn't affect anyone's enjoyment of the lake. We'll be working seven days a week to get the job done as quickly as possible, although we will not be working through the night."
The first phase of work will be finished by the end of March 2012 and the area returned to use for the summer tourist season. Work on the pipeline will not start until September 2012.
CAPTION: Windermere rig UU: United Utilities project manager Roger Woodcock and a view of the rig from Cockshott Point.
Insert photo: Rig being towed to site courtesy of A Blaney.