BOSSES at water providers United Utilities are to invest £120million in improvements to wastewater treatment in Blackburn.

The firm, which provides water across the North West including all of East Lancashire, has invited contractors to tender for the works.

The project, which is in the very early stages, will see the design, construction and commissioning of a new treatment plant in Blackburn, as well as updates to its site in Darwen for improved capacity.

It is not anticipated that work will actually begin until at least the year after next.

Work is believed to include the construction of additional storm storage capacity, transfer sewers, brewery waste, screening and liquor treatment facilities, and the installation of new power engines.

The contractor that emerges successfully from the tendering process will provide the full project, starting with its design.

A United Utilities spokesman said: “We are currently seeking a contractor for our planned improvement work at Blackburn Wastewater Treatment Works.

“The successful contractor will help us design a programme of work to upgrade this facility so it can continue to meet the demands of today’s population while reducing the frequency and volume of stormwater discharges into local watercourses, which is great news for the environment.

“We are currently at the very beginning of our journey to improve Blackburn Wastewater Treatment works and no activity is likely to start on site until around summer 2016.”

The Blackburn site in Roman Road – United Utilities’ seventh biggest in the UK – serves 260,000 people and had been in place since the 19th century.