Delivering innovation and efficiency.
Delivering more sustainable solutions for our customers requires us and our alliance partners to be innovative and think differently about projects. From design through to commissioning, we challenge ourselves on every project to consider our customers and improve performance against our sustainability themes. There are many ongoing projects to improve and maintain assets, to ensure we supply high quality water to our customers, and avoid any negative impact on the environment.
We’ve delivered a number of notable projects over the past year:
- We replaced an old iron Victorian water pipe with a new tougher plastic one in Baker Street as part of a £2.1 million project to make the network more resilient now and for future generations. The new plastic pipe was inserted inside the old cast iron pipe, a process called slip-lining, which is the quickest, most efficient and less disruptive way of upgrading the pipe. This process eliminates the need to dig long trenches to replace the pipe completely and close entire roads for long periods of time.
- We installed a new and innovative supporting structure and lining for a sewer above Baker Street underground station to avoid major disruption to traffic, people and the underground train network. A novel system of steel frame and lining panels have been inserted through manholes and assembled in situ to strengthen and line the Kings Scholar Pond Sewer from the inside, avoiding the need for large-scale engineering works. For more information, see our case study below.
- We’re installing sustainable drainage systems at three locations in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham as part of the LIFE+ climate proofing social housing landscapes project. This will reduce the amount of rainwater entering the sewers, increase resilience to flooding, and improve public amenity and biodiversity at the sites. The project is being delivered in partnership with an environmental charity, Groundwork, that works in disadvantaged communities in London.
- We’ve been constructing thermal hydrolysis plants (THPs) as part of our THP expansion project. The addition of THP to current sludge treatment processes enables more biogas to be produced from sludge, which can then be used as a fuel to generate renewable electricity. This will further reduce our reliance on grid energy, as well as cutting our carbon emissions. Sludge treated by THP also provides a more useful product for farms, so there are more sites which are willing to accept THP sludge, and the product is less odorous than limed sludge.
- We’re constructing a pilot scheme that will take the residual sludge from anaerobic digesters and generate additional energy through an advanced thermal process, called pyrolysis. If it’s successful, we may introduce this technology at a larger scale at other wastewater treatment sites. Read more in the case study below.
Reducing our impacts.
We always attempt to implement more sustainable solutions where possible, and try to minimise environmental impacts in the planning and construction of all our projects. We do this by challenging all our design teams to use innovative methods and materials to deliver their projects successfully. These working practices include:
- Improving resilience of our sites and minimising waste - at Coppermills water treatment works we have improved the reliability of drinking water supply to London, while minimising the carbon and health and safety impacts of the project by using innovative offsite manufacture. We also used a mobile recycling unit to process excavated material and reuse it as aggregate where possible, instead of producing and transporting new material. The recycling unit is also proving crucial in our ongoing mains rehabilitation programme to repair and restore water mains. For more information, see our case study below.
- Creating and surveying habitats and enhancing biodiversity - at Lockwood reservoir, which forms part of the public Walthamstow Wetlands Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA), we used innovative soft engineering techniques and an environmentally sensitive design to improve and prevent erosion of the reservoir embankment. We also used non-invasive methods to survey wildlife at the reservoir before and after the project by using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones. This was carried out in collaboration with Natural England, Walthamstow Wetlands Trust, Waltham Forest Council and the fisheries, who also aim to do this on future projects. For more information, see our case study below.
- Minimising operational carbon emissions in the course of projects which aim to reduce phosphorus at our wastewater treatment plants, using ferric sulphate instead of ferric chloride. Although they both reduce phosphorus in treated wastewater, ferric sulphate reduces carbon emissions by more than 50 per cent.
A look ahead.
We’re working with our design and construction partners to make operational and embodied carbon reduction, sustainability and environmental enhancement ‘business as usual’ across all our projects. To do this, we set ourselves a number of targets last year, and we’ll carry on working with our teams to meet and outperform these targets.
We’ll continue to work towards meeting our targets, to provide water efficiently and keep our communities safe. At the same time, we’re doing everything we can to make sure there’s no damage to the environment, or loss of biodiversity, across our programme of improvements.