Utilities Digital Solutions Europe

Radar innovation prevents sewer flooding in Wales

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Welsh Water and Vega have successfully tested a new radar sensor that can help prevent internal sewer flooding and pollution.

Radar innovation

Utility Welsh Water has successfully tested a new radar sensor that it says can prevent “distressful internal sewer flooding incidents occurring”.

The sensor, made by Vega, was tested to see how it performed in the 30,000km of sewers that Welsh Water operates and provides for three million people.

“The sensor is able to provide real-time data which will help to improve reaction time.”

Put to the test against rags, greases and other typical sewer blockages, the new sensor is designed to provide a more accurate reading than ultrasonic detectors when dealing with sewer obstructions.

Welsh Water says the sensor is the next evolution in level monitoring as it can provide real-time data to improve reaction time. One of the biggest benefits of the new sensor will be reducing unnecessary call-outs as wells as false readings, according to the utility.

A statement of things to come

While these early tests are proving to show the steps Welsh Water is taking to invest in new technology, this can be seen as a sign of things to come.

Sean Gregory, research and innovation manager at Welsh Water said in a press release: "The company has set aside a record budget of over £80 million for research and innovation to transform water and wastewater services over the next five years."

This is a sizable research budget for new innovations in sewers, often a vital part of water sector infrastructure that hasn’t received the same attention, or investment, as drinking water networks.

Yet, it now starting to be taken seriously with a number of start-ups seeing the potential for innovation with AI tools helping to create the 'google-maps’ of wastewater pipes.

There is a simple solution

Welsh Water stresses another simple solution to keeping sewers unblocked and the role customers can play

Two-thirds of sewer blockages are caused by things that should not be there, such as wipes, nappies and cotton buds.

In the kitchen, liquids and solids including fats, oils and greases are being flushed down sinks, leading to catastrophic flooding in people’s homes.

Mike Loyns, wastewater asset engineer for Welsh Water, added "We also need customers to play their part too and help stop the block. Just a single wet wipe is enough to start a blockage in your sewer pipe and risks causing catastrophic flooding in your home.”

“Two-thirds of sewer blockages are caused by things that should not be there, such as wipes, nappies and cotton buds.”

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