New Welsh Water Innovation to Help Prevent Flooding and Pollution Incidents

6 August 2021

Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales, has successfully tested an innovative radar sensor that can help prevent distressful internal sewer flooding incidents occurring.

The innovation, the Vega radar sensor, has been through rigorous testing and was found to still perform even when contending with rags, grease and other items that can cause major problems within the network and in worst cases can lead to flooding and pollution incidents. The radar is the next evolution in level monitoring and will be available for all future developments and improvement works.

Managing a network of 30,000km km of sewers to over 3 million people and businesses is a 24/7 operation. Sensors are key to identifying network issues and are vital to the delivery of Welsh Water’s essential services. Through the accurate identification of incidents, the company can proactively attend areas that are known to have problems whilst utilising resources more efficiently.

The radar sensor is innovative as it provides accurate readings despite the conditions in the sewer, such as rags, wipes and grease. Although Welsh Water is finding innovative solutions to problems that cause major issues like flooding, most sewer obstructions can be avoided. Alarmingly, 2/3 of sewer blockages are caused by things that shouldn’t be there, such as wipes nappies and cotton buds, and also people putting things down their sink such as fats, oils and greases. The impact of this can lead to catastrophic flooding in people’s homes.

Mike Loyns, Wastewater Asset Engineer said:

“The Vega sensor is an excellent example of how innovation seeks to continuously improve how we carry out essential services, using the latest digital and technological advances. Providing real time, accurate data, the new solution can improve our reaction time, making unnecessary call-outs and false readings a thing of the past.

“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.”

Sean Gregory, Research and Innovation Manager said:

“Innovation is at the heart of Welsh Water’s plans for the future, ensuring that we continue to work towards our environmental targets and continue to provide an effective, resilient and affordable service for decades to come. As such, 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.”

The company reminds customers to throw all wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products away in the bin, and to dispose of fat, oil and grease responsibly instead of pouring it down the sink. More information can be found here.