A multi-million-pound project to provide a crucial water pipeline to tens of thousands of people has been completed.
Southern Water has spent £7.5 million building four pipes that will bring water from the mainland to the Isle of Sheppey.
The project team used a directional drill, a machine that drills in a non-vertical direction, to dig 500 metres across the Swale.
Team leader Peter Simmons said: “There were all sorts of changes in the soil, clay and shells which made life pretty tough.
“But we had a brilliant team and overcame every hurdle.”
The project began in October last year, just three months after a major incident saw Sheppey lose water supplies for three days.
Following the incident, Southern Water not only promised a new pipeline to the Island but also paid compensation to those affected and donated £30,000 to local causes including Festival of the Sea and Swale Pride.
Customers also received compensation and a £20 shopping voucher which cost the company £300,000.
Additionally, residents voted for community organisations to receive grants.
The top 12 from the list of 58 voted for by residents automatically receive £500 and this was followed by a further vote by Sheppey residents.
The top five from this list will receive an additional £3,000 share of the funds.
Southern Water received 9,530 votes via social media to determine the top five.
South East 4x4, Castle Connections, The Salvation Army, Freedom Centre and Curly’s Farm were the most popular picks and shared the cash.
Aside from the engineering hurdles the nature of the site presented its own complexities.
Dr Nicola Meakins, who is in charge of Southern Water’s enabling team, said: “We were drilling from one site of special scientific interest to another so Defra, Natural England and other regulators and stakeholders had to be sure our work was done to minimise our impact on wildlife and we had good plans in place to return our sites to normal.
“Fortunately, regulators know and trust our ecologists and project managers to do the right thing and we were able to gain consent in record time.”
The project team signed off with beach cleans at five locations in support of the Sheerness Seaside Festival.