Smarter systems can preempt pollution events

When it comes to pollution prevention, existing data can deliver surprising results, says Ovarro chief technology officer Matthew Hawkridge, ahead of the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit in London.

With record levels of investment planned to prevent pollutions and sewage spills in AMP8 – the 2025-30 asset management plan period for England and Wales – water companies are scoping out new systems to achieve the ambitious goals proposed in draft business plans.

Across parts of the water sector, there is clear focus on deploying additional sensors to capture more data, which will be useful in managing resources and assets in the coming years. However, the full value of vast quantities of data that is already available is not yet being harnessed and realised.

At World Water-Tech Innovation Summit, which takes place in London on 20-21 February 2024, Matthew will be hosting a roundtable on the ways smart technology is being applied to monitor and prevent pollution. The session will reveal, for example, how technology that is already available can use existing sewer network data to pre-empt pollution events and take proactive steps to prevent them.

Ovarro’s BurstDetect, for example, is a cloud-based early-warning system that applies existing data from pumping stations to detect rising main sewer bursts. Two UK utilities have successfully embedded BurstDetect into their operations. In 2023, the system correctly identified 38 burst rising mains across the two companies’ networks.

In several of the cases, the water company was unaware of issues with the rising main and, as a result of the BurstDetect alert, was able to repair the burst before any significant pollution event occurred. In addition numerous other issues were identified including blocked pumps, issues with station controls and blockages in the upstream sewer.

On the clean water technology side, Ovarro’s leakage solutions director Tony Gwynne will be among companies presenting case studies at the summit, on smart systems that are reducing non-revenue water loss.

He will be joined by Hannah Wardle, head of leakage, Thames Water, to discuss a recent partnership to implement Ovarro’s end-to-end service LeakNavigator, which saw installation of 3,450 sensors across 106 district metered areas.

Since starting the project in January 2023, Thames Water has identified 1,160 leaks. Following repairs this has saved in excess of 12Ml/day.

Hannah Wardle, head of leakage at Thames Water said:

“We’re committed to finding and fixing leaks faster. Investing in new technology is critical to us detecting leaks and Ovarro has been instrumental in helping us to protect water, an extremely precious resource.

“In recent weeks, cold weather has led to a jump in freeze-thaw events, with the number of bursts increasing across our network of pipes. Ovarro has enabled us to locate leaks quickly and prioritise repairs by size and scale.”




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