READING'S water works is set to get a £10 million upgrade to help keep taps flowing as the town's population grows and climate change brings more extreme weather.

Thames Water's Fobney site on Rose Kiln Lane will benefit from upgraded filters and pumps, as well as advanced new technology to make it more efficient and resilient to stormy conditions.

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Work will begin in the first few months of 2021.

Gareth Parry, Thames Water's head of water production, said: "We deliver life's essential service and this large investment will help ensure we continue to do that into the future as the population of Reading increases along with demand for water.

"The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted more than ever just how important access to clean, safe water is for health and hygiene, as well as recreation, and we’re proud to play such a vital role in the communities we supply."

Since the start of the pandemic in March, Thames Water has seen demand in the Thames Valley increase due to fewer people leaving their homes to work in bigger cities like London, while demand in the capital has decreased, at times to record lows.

Gareth added: "The pandemic has proved a massive challenge for us as the drop off in demand we normally see through the day, when lots of our Thames Valley customers head away for work, doesn't happen on the same scale we've always been used to.

"Also, in the height of summer when the weather was hot and dry, we saw big spikes in water use.

"Coupled with fewer people heading away on holiday, it meant we had sustained periods where water use was at record levels.

"We need to keep investing in our network and sites but our customers can also play their part by only using what they need.

"Knocking a minute off each shower, only putting on dishwashers and washing machines when there's a full load and fixing dripping taps and leaky loos can all make a big difference and save hundreds of litres at home every day."

In September, the water treatment works was forced to temporarily shut down following Storm Alex, which stirred up abnormally high levels of sediment in the River Kennet it relies on.

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It meant the water was too murky to be put through the drinking water treatment process and left some properties in areas of west Reading with no water for parts of the day.

Gareth said: "Climate change means storms and short bursts of very heavy rain are becoming more common.

"It's vital that when they come and the river water we rely on contains more silt than normal, we can still provide Reading with top-quality drinking water."