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Over 6,000 water workers given calm network training

An online training initiative designed to reduce human error in the way hydrants, valves and pumps are operated has now certified over 6,000 water network operators.

Aquam’s Calm Network Training, which is accredited by the Institute of Water, ensures that candidates achieve an understanding of the causes of transient surge in the water network.

Research shows that human error in how hydrants, valves and pumps are operated is a major cause of surge effects in water supply networks. Surge is a major cause of leaks and bursts in pipe infrastructure.

United Utilities (UU) was first to take up Aquam’s online Calm Network Training after launch of the scheme in 2014. The water company made it mandatory for its contractors to complete the course, which involves a video tutorial and multiple-choice assessment. Over 3,000 operators of UU’s potable water network have achieved certification to date.

Severn Trent Water has also made Calm Network Training mandatoryand has trained over 1,600 users of its networks. Eight other UK utilities have also taken advantage of the comprehensive and flexible training programme.

Beyond reducing surges, the benefits of the training can include increased lifespan of existing infrastructure, reduced leakage and water wastage, fewer incidents of discolouration and contamination of the water supply caused by ingress, and fewer customer complaints about leakage, water quality and supply interruptions.

Aquam consultant Roman Boryslawskyj said: “The good news is that much of the harm done to pipe infrastructure can be avoided by modifying the way the network is operated.  This can be achieved by ensuring operators are thoroughly trained, which utilities must do under their duty of care.

“It’s about protecting the network by operating in a calm environment; then you don’t disrupt customers. Each burst attracts an average of 35 complaints and costs £1,000 a time – and that’s just an average cost.”

Ken Lacey, technical support officer - water regulations, United Utilities added: “We are delighted to be leading the field in training network operators to manage our infrastructure carefully and safely. The Calm Network Training course offered by Aquam can be undertaken by our own staff, our partners and other users of the network wherever they are and at whatever time suits them.

“We have already seen the benefits in terms of reduced customer contacts and fewer bursts and leaks.” 

Dan Littlewood, senior technician at Severn Trent Water, added, “We are already seeing the benefits of training users of our networks to do so safely and calmly. This is important not only to prevent damage to the pipes and prevent leakage, but also to maintain water quality and avoid disruption to customers and the wider public.”

Phil Walker, water services director, Aquam, said, “I am delighted that the online Calm Networks Training course developed by Aquam has proven so popular with utilities and contractors. The regulatory pressure is on to improve customer service and reduce supply interruptions, while simultaneously keeping bills low.

“Calm Networks Training helps our utility clients reduce leakage, improve water quality, preserve pipework and cut costs. The benefit is on-going too, with best practice becoming embedded in those utilities that invest in routine training of standpipe operations staff throughout their supply chain and customer base.”

He added, “At Aquam we also manage licensed standpipes for many UK utilities, so we feel we have a duty to help ensure that operators of the network know what they’re doing with this kit.”

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Leaks & bursts , Pipes & Pipelines
Tags: leaks , infrastructure , Water supply , training

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