The Company owns and operates a range of assets in order to abstract, treat and distribute water to its customers. The standard of water treatment has increased over the years requiring more sophisticated technology and plant to meet these increasing standards. The relatively long life of our assets requires a well planned and managed programme of maintenance to sustain stable levels of service to our customers.
The Company has embarked upon a five year programme of maintaining critical assets. Capital expenditure in the year to 2016/17 is £16m and includes £5.0m on mains renewals. Feedback on our customers’ priorities included the need to provide safe and secure supplies with effective leakage control. In the last five years we worked to achieve these aims and now embark upon the next five years. In the past year we have with the help of our staff improved the condition of many assets securing safe supplies whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
The key elements of our current maintenance programme are set out on the following pages.
Water Mains Renewal Schemes
Our underground pipe network is around 3,270km long, during the past ten years we have worked hard to reduce the impact of bursts upon our customers by targeting mains for renewal. This work has reduced the average number of bursts per year on our network from over 500/year pre 2005 to below 300/year, a reduction of over 40%. In 2015 we completely reviewed how we target and carry out mains renewal activities, this has led to a new approach to this work and seen the establishment of a new collaborative contract with Cappagh, a company which brings a wealth of experienced and innovative thinking with them.
We will be renewing 24km of mains and associated service pipes in 2016/17, and for the following 3 years, and aim to replace the majority of these mains utilising ‘no dig’ techniques so minimising disruption to customers wherever possible. The mains to be renewed have been selected using a risk based approach, including a new innovative critical links analysis model, this has highlighted the sections of mains which are most likely to burst and, if they did burst, have the highest impact on customers. The proactive renewing of these sections of main is aimed at reducing bursts and the impact of bursts to our customers over both the short and long term.
The long term benefit of mains renewals is sometimes less obvious to our customers who on occasions suffer the short term inconvenience of our construction activities. In response to this the Company is increasing the length of mains replaced using ‘no-dig’ technology which will increase form 23% in 2010-15 to >65% in 2015-20. The process minimises the amount of excavation and thereby disruption to customers and road users.
Click here for details about the mains renewal process and also an update on where work is currently in progress.
Serving New Developments
We have a statutory duty to connect new households to our water mains network. At the request of developers we lay new water mains to new housing and commercial developments. Click here for more details.
Water Treatment and Pumping Station Improvements
During the past year the Company continued a programme of maintaining critical assets replacing operational elements of plant in order to maintain stable service to our customers. Interruptions to customers’ supplies from plant outages are one of the lowest in the industry and reflects our ongoing commitment to asset maintenance. Over the next five years we will be spending approximately £20 million on maintaining water treatment works, pumping stations and associated processes.
During 2016 we have completed work on two significant schemes to safeguard water quality at our Eastergate and Westergate water treatment work sites. In recent years we have seen a deterioration in the quality of water that we extract from the aquifers at these sites. This has resulted in both increased levels of turbidity (cloudiness due to fine particulate matter) and Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium can cause sickness if not removed or treated in the water supply.
An advanced Ultra Violet (UV) treatment plant has been constructed at both sites. This highly effective treatment process will kill 99.99% of micro-organisms in the water without the need to add chemicals.
In 2017 we are focussing work at our Farlington WTW site where we are replacing an existing membrane filtration plant with a UV plant, the same process implemented at Eastergate & Westergate works. This scheme is aimed at improving the long term effectiveness and efficiency of the works, we will also be constructing a wastewater recovery plant at the site which will reduce the amount of wastewater discharged to sewer.