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  • Innovation

    It is essential that we are able to adopt new ways of working and technologies that help improve the services we provide, reduce costs and manage risk.

    Environmental investigations are carried out to ensure that future capital investment is well-focused. Some of the investigations employ innovative methods and examples from 2015-16 include:

    • using a biological tracer to establish whether final effluent from Wick St Lawrence sewage treatment works can be found at Sandy Bay and Clevedon bathing waters in Somerset
    • installing an observation borehole at Compton Durville, Somerset, with vibrating wire piezometers to obtain better detail about groundwater flows
    • using magnetite (inert iron oxide) at Bowerhill, Wiltshire, to improve settlement and increase phosphorous removal.

    Our Eureka programme rewards staff who propose projects that save money, improve service to customers, reduce risk and improve our working methods. The most successful ideas in 2015-16 include:

    • insulation of chemical storage tanks to maintain the life of the chemicals and reduce the run-time of pumps
    • installation of variable speed drives for blowers at a sewage treatment works
    • a novel reworking of a spindle on a valve to improve the ease and safety of maintenance.

    We also carry out trials of new products and technology developed by other companies. In the last year these have included:

    • waxed hibernation epoxy resin liners which can be used in larger diameter sewers
    • use of ultrasound to prevent the growth of cyanobacteria in Luxhay reservoir in Somerset
    • on-site calibration of water pressure gauges and monitors, reducing the journeys previously involved in bringing them to a single location for recalibration.

    Our joint research programme with the University of Bath is ongoing with the mains themes being:

    • low energy nutrient recovery from sewage
    • methods for increasing biogas from sewage sludge digesters
    • emerging pollutants in waste water
    • improved techniques for understanding and comparing the whole life costs of water management.

    The university's Water Innovation Research Centre, formed in 2014-15 with our assistance, appointed a director and lecturer in water science and engineering. 

    We continue to host one-year industrial placement students from the university who have assisted with energy management, drinking water compliance monitoring and assessment of techniques to lower phosphorous levels in sewage effluent.

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