WRc finalises pioneering project that will ensure a leak-free future

March 30, 2022

RSK company WRc is delighted to announce the finalisation of an important project commissioned by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) that will identify and transfer minimal excavation technology to the water industry.

The project will facilitate the advancement of current water industry approaches in order to meet UKWIR’s ‘Big Questions’, specifically BQ2 Zero Leakage by 2050 and BQ3 Zero Interruptions by 2050.

The unique nature of the work will transform how the water industry interacts with supply chains and will pave the way for a new approach to a leak-free future.

Delivering these leakage ambitions to safeguard future supply–demand balance is a key commitment for the water industry, and safely and efficiently repairing leaks is a key part of the challenge of reducing leakage. However, current processes for excavating buried pipes are slow, disruptive and labour-intensive and can lead to unintentional damage to neighbouring assets.

Through global literature reviews and expert interviews, the pioneering project considered all aspects, from pre-excavation asset location through to reinstatement, to identify current and developing technologies for minimal excavation, and an industry-wide workshop clarified critical issues to ensure widespread adoption of these technologies.

A clear route map has been set out to overcome the associated challenges, adopt new processes and meet challenging leakage targets while also reducing disruption to customers.

Key identified future projects include improvement of pipe location accuracy and repair methods, as well as the potential for, and guidance of, robotic roadworks and excavation.

Jeremy Heath, UKWIR Programme Lead, said: “The leakage innovation heatmap, completed just before lockdown, clearly demonstrated that there was a lack of research and development into repair solutions.

“The swift repair of leaking water pipes is a key requirement in reducing leakage, and therefore as an industry we have refocused our attentions onto this neglected area. This report is an important milestone in surveying useful repair techniques used by other utilities, which we can look to adapt and adopt.

“The UK Water Industry is rising to meet the challenging leakage reduction targets we have set ourselves, and it is only through wide ranging research and innovation projects, such as this one, that we will be able to successfully implement sustainable and cost-effective water leakage reduction.”

Leo Carswell, Project Lead for WRc, added: “This project really sets the foundations for change and the collaboration with the gas sector via SGN provided a vision for what is possible.”

A report of the project will be available soon from UKWIR. For project enquiries or to get involved in the solution for a leak-free future, contact UKWIR at mail@ukwir.org.uk.

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