A £300 million water treatment works has begun to operate, with 80,000 homes expected to get their water from the new plant in the autumn.

The project is at the cutting edge of technology, with innovations including a hydro-electric turbine and the longest pipe-jack tunnel in the UK.

The water treatment works can harness its own energy from the force of the water arriving at the plant after it has travelled through a 30km pipe from Thirlmere reservoir.

Whitehaven News: View of part of the works from the roof.View of part of the works from the roof.

The hydro-turbine can generate enough electricity to provide 40 per cent of the plant’s needs: the equivalent of 175 homes.

READ MORE: First look inside £300 million water treatment plant and pipeline...

The project has been designed to 'futureproof' Cumbria’s water supply according to project director John Hilton, and United Utilities "have embraced the latest technology to ensure we’ve delivered a network that will provide West Cumbria with a more sustainable water supply."

How does it work?

Once the water has arrived from Thirlmere and passed through the turbine it arrives at the first of two stages of filtration.

The first stage of filtration removes all sediment, including sand, dust and dirt from the water before travelling to the second filtration zone which removes all smaller articles from the water.

Whitehaven News: Part of the waste product unit.Part of the waste product unit.

This process happens rapidly, with the plant able to process 45 million litres of water in less than 24 hours.

The final stage of the process is sorting the waste product following the filtration process.

The waste comes in as sludge and is squeezed to create a ‘cake’.

The liquid squeezed out from the sludge is taken back to the top of the works and processed again.

Whitehaven News: Water pipes. Courtesy of United Utilities.Water pipes. Courtesy of United Utilities.

The 'cake' of waste is taken to a waste-water facility and processed there, leaving the total wastage at the bare minimum.

The water system can hold 100 million litres of water and is ‘one of the largest feats of engineering’ and most technologically advanced projects United Utilities has ever undertaken.

READ MORE: First look inside £300 million water treatment plant and pipeline...