Corporate Responsibility

Innovation in water.

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We want to be more resilient to challenges such as climate change and an ageing infrastructure, while also embracing the future as an intelligent water company that delivers great service by using data better. To help us achieve this, we’re continuing to seek out innovation by working in collaboration with our partners, suppliers and academia.

Innovative pilot-scale algae removal filter.

Surveying trunk mains.

Trunk mains are our largest water pipes – the motorways of the water network – and when they burst it has a significant impact on our customers. We’re constantly trying to learn more about what causes these bursts, and where they have the worst effects, so we can identify the best ways to invest in improvements where it’s needed most. In August 2017 following a burst in Lee High Road in December 2016, we conducted the first ever ‘in-situ’ trunk main survey in the UK using a pipe scanning technology not previously used with cast iron mains of this size. It involved using a torpedo-shaped scanning device lowered into the pipe. While it didn't deliver the output we were looking for, we learned important lessons from this trial. We’re now building a dedicated trunk main test facility at one of our sites, so we can test a variety of trunk main technologies without needing to interrupt water supplies to customers. Read more by clicking on the case study below:

Smart water abstraction.

Better use of data can help transform how we abstract water from rivers and improve security of supply for our customers. We’ve developed a new interactive map to maximise the use of real-time data from the Environment Agency (EA) to fill our large London reservoirs. With this new tool, we can better monitor river levels and identify opportunities to abstract water more quickly and efficiently to boost reservoir levels when rivers are high, but slow the process down when river levels are low. Using data from the EA, which is refreshed every 15 minutes, the abstraction tool reduces the need to relay information by phone, streamlining the process and driving efficiency in the process. Find out more by clicking on the case study below:

Fighting algal blooms.

Algal blooms are a natural phenomenon and when they occur they can block processes in our water treatment plants and reduce the volume of treated water produced. This is happening more often and is likely to increase with future climate change so work to minimise their impact is of huge importance. We have continued to trial whether Mecana filters, which are traditionally used as filters in sewage works, can prevent the flow of algae from reservoirs into the water treatment process. The research into the use of these filters hasn’t been straight forward, but its potential success is of huge significance to the industry and the delivery of customer service. Click on the case study below for more details:

Sand filter skimmer. 

Slow sand filters are an essential part of water production and need to be drained and cleaned every few weeks, keeping them out of action for around four days. We have been designing an innovative underwater skimming machine that could significantly reduce the amount of time the filters are out of action and therefore help boost water production. Once built and tested, the underwater skimmer could bring further improvements such as making cleaning processes more efficient, minimising the disruption to the biology of the filter and reducing health and safety risks. Read more by clicking the case study below:

Looking ahead to next year, we will continue to test leading edge technology and scanning devices for condition inspections of our Victorian cast iron trunk mains. We’ll also be building a test facility at our Kempton innovation centre, which will accelerate development in condition based tools at Thames Water as well as across the industry. We’ll also continue with our day-to-day innovations, helping make our routine maintenance tasks and treatment processes more efficient, sustainable and resilient for the future.