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Innovation key to ensuring the water networks of the future

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:21 17 September 2018

Installing a Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) at All Saints Primary School in Newmarket

Installing a Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) at All Saints Primary School in Newmarket

Tim George Photographer

Anglian Water is leading the way in using the latest technologies to ensure resilient water supplies, 
writes David Hartley.

Michael Gove MP visits Gazeley Water Treatment Works -  pictured with Anglian Water CEO Peter Simpson.
Picture : 

Matthew PowerMichael Gove MP visits Gazeley Water Treatment Works - pictured with Anglian Water CEO Peter Simpson. Picture : Matthew Power

The summer heatwave is fast becoming a distant memory, the warm weather is slowly fading and some brisker mornings and drizzly days mean that autumn is right on our doorstep.

Colder weather means changes in temperature and more ground movement - and more ground movement can mean more burst pipes. At Anglian Water, our forward-thinking approach means we’re ready for the colder months ahead.

Waging a war on leakage

Anglian Water is the best in the business when it comes to leakage - we hate leaks as much as our customers do, which is why we’re using the newest and most effective technology we can to ensure we’re at the top of our game in tackling the issue.

These include thermal imaging leakage drones, which seek out hard to pinpoint leaks, to special devices which “listen” for leaks in our pipes and advanced keyhole excavation techniques, which make our repairs faster, neater and less disruptive. And every leak we find and fix, means less water wasted – it’s Love Every Drop in action.

Deploying this kind of technology and our efforts on helping customers use less water, as well as investing in long term resilience, means none of our customers were impacted during the Beast from the East earlier in the year and there was no hosepipe ban or water outages during the hot summer in this region either.

Last week, Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove MP, visited our water treatment works at Gazeley in west Suffolk to find out what it is about Anglian Water that makes us the industry leader in tackling leakage.

Work at All Saints Primary School in Newmarket  Pic:Tim GeorgeWork at All Saints Primary School in Newmarket Pic:Tim George

We showed the Secretary of State our approach to leakage and resilience whilst explaining the unique challenges we face in our region.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “Here in the Anglian region, there are unique pressures that are faced by customers and the water company – this is the driest part of England and it’s also the case that Anglian are the league leaders when it comes to dealing with leaks.

“What I’ve seen here today is a company that’s determined to do better, to invest in the environment and to give consumers what they want, which is an end to the leaks which creates much frustration and environmental damage.”

Here comes the rain again…

But it’s not just dry weather which can cause us problems. With winter comes rain and with rain can come the problem of surface water flooding. This is when it rains heavily and the water simply can’t flow away quickly enough – like water trying to get down a plug hole.

With this in mind, we are also trialling new Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) schemes in Newmarket which will improve resilience against flooding in the region.

All Saints School Primary School in Newmarket has recently had a brand new SuDS system fitted. The system includes a range of green areas and permeable surfaces so that when the rain eventually arrives, it can be captured on soil and permeable surfaces to reduce the amount of water which runs directly into the drains.

Michael Gove MP at  Gazeley Water Treatment Works Pic Matthew PowerMichael Gove MP at Gazeley Water Treatment Works Pic Matthew Power

These green areas include rain gardens, planters and tree bowls which collect the rain water and thus reduce the risk of flooding. Installing these in urban areas will help to ensure our networks remain resilient through the harshest of weathers, whilst also providing local wildlife with an environment and habitat in which to thrive.

Anglian Water’s innovation manager in Newmarket, Nick Sexton, said: “We want to reduce and slow the amount of rainwater entering local sewer systems. Doing so using SuDS technology is more environmentally friendly than building bigger concrete sewers with a big carbon footprint. It’s also less disruptive and more attractive for the local community and also cheaper for customer bills.”

Resilience is the key, and we’re striving to become better every day. Through our use of technology, we are making sure that we have all the resources ready for the future. As industry leaders in leakage, we are already demonstrating the impact that embracing technology can have, and we want to replicate this in every possible area.

The world’s climate fluctuates far more than it ever did, and the effects of drought hit our region hard. We’re committed to ensuring that we invest our money to tackle the impacts of climate change: whether this is through the latest leakage technology, or by using SuDS in urban areas. We are making sure we’re doing our part to ensure our water supplies are secured for now and the future, come rain or shine.

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