New research centre to tackle urban groundwater infiltration
Atkins, together with the University of Birmingham, Imperial College London, and the British Geological Survey, has launched a Centre for Research and Innovation to tackle the economic and environmental impacts of groundwater infiltration on urban infrastructure in the UK, which is estimated to cost tens of millions of pounds annually.
For the first two years, the centre will be focused on sewerage infrastructure where water seeping through cracked pipes is estimated to account for 40% of flow in the network. This reduces sewer capacity; damages infrastructure; poses a serious challenge for operations; and deteriorates the quality of the receiving waters and ecosystem services.
It is believed the issue costs the water industry millions of pounds every year. In 2013/14, three water companies in the UK spent an additional £80M in responding to the impacts of infiltration. The centre will undertake research with academia, researchers and industry to bring innovative and practicable outcomes, so that significant financial and environmental benefits can be brought to this longstanding industry problem.
The long-term aim of the centre is to develop preventative techniques that will reduce ongoing asset management costs as well as improve environmental standards and customer service for the industry. At times of increased wet weather and flooding across the UK, like over the 2013/14 winter, these techniques will also directly reduce the risk of flooding experienced in towns and cities including schools, homes, and local businesses.
Adam Cambridge, technical authority for urban stormwater management at Atkins, said: “For decades infiltration has been a long standing infrastructure challenge for our industry. Local communities are often the ones most affected by the problem. This is the first time we’ve taken a co-ordinated approach to tackle the impacts of infiltration facing our infrastructure head on.
"Over the next five years, the centre will bring together academics, researchers and industry to build an integrated approach in managing the environmental risk and economic impact to our sewerage network across the UK, hopefully freeing up capacity, reducing the overspills and saving millions of pounds in the process.”
Dr Chris Jackson, a principal scientist at the British Geological Survey, said: “This new collaborative centre is an exciting opportunity to build on our NERC-funded environmental modelling and groundwater research. The centre brings together a wide range of expertise from industry and academia. By working together, and by collaborating with a range of stakeholders, we hope to realise significant benefits not only for the water industry but also for local communities.”
Dr Ana Mijic, lecturer in urban water management at the Imperial College London, added: “The centre presents a great platform for translating the scientific knowledge into innovative and end-users informed approaches and tools for addressing an important issue of groundwater impacts on urban infrastructure. We are hoping to deliver a wide range of environmental and economic benefits, and identify stakeholder-relevant research themes and projects.”
- Labour plans National Infrastructure Commission if it wins General Election Labour plans to put the UK's long-term infrastructure needs centre stage are expected to address crucial water and... Read More >
- Saint-Gobain sells off Ashworth in the UK Saint-Gobain Building Distribution has sold off two non-core businesses - Ashworth in the UK and US firm Meyer Decorative... Read More >
- Water and sewerage infrastructure investment a priority Water supply and sewerage network programmes, the Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Flooding and Coastal Erosion Management... Read More >
- The end of 'business as usual' in the water sector? James Connolly, head of partnerships at digital asset and works management company eviFile, assesses the message coming... Read More >
- Innovation leadership - we all need to do our bit The water sector needs a catalyst to develop a successful innovation culture, writes Ian Small, AECOM's innovation... Read More >
- Moving towards maintenance 4.0 Water utilities need to embrace smart asset management technologies but that is only part of the solution, writes Chris... Read More >
- Under pressure: Tackling leakage in new networks Leakage in new pipelines represents a significant problem but, working alongside Scottish Water, Ant Hire Solutions has... Read More >
- Forward Thinking: The Utility of the Future Through the Utility of the Future campaign, WWT and its sister brands have launched a major new project to establish a... Read More >