A WATER MAIN at the end of its useful life is being moved in an area of Wiltshire to help restore an historic canal back to a navigable waterway.

A section of the Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal between Melksham and Lacock has been unused for a century after it fell into disrepair, but is now being restored by the Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal Trust.

Wessex Water’s 70 year-old trunk main, which supplies water to thousands of households, currently runs under a disused section of the canal and has reached the end of its life.

The trust contacted the water company asking if it could move the main further up the canal so that the disused section of canal could be restored and filled with water.

Simon Hole, Wessex Water’s project manager for the scheme, said Wessex Water was more than happy to help the charity.

"The water main is 1.5 metres under the canal and we were aware this wouldn't have been deep enough to restore the canal to a navigable standard.

"We are pleased to be able to support the trust during their ongoing restorations to the canal, as well as ensuring our water main is brought up to modern standards."

The work, which will see Wessex Water investing around £100k will also ensure that the quality of water is safeguarded for years to come. A spokesman for the trust said: "We are absolutely delighted with the cooperation from Wessex Water and the generous contribution they are making to the restoration of this valuable community asset."

Wessex Water said it is rare to have a water main running under a waterway, however explained that it is a straightforward job which will have minimal impact on the environment while preserving the natural beauty of the area. To ensure that no customers are without water while work takes place, the firm will connect a replacement main feeding from local Bowden reservoir.

The work which started this week is expected to be completed in November 2012.