Beyond Alerts: Anglian Water Analyzes Pressure Main Performance with Real-Time Data

leaking pipe
By Lorenzo Pompa

Anglian Water supplies water and sewer services to more than six million customers in the east of England, a service area of more than 27,500 square kilometres (17,000 square miles). The utility manages nearly 113,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) of water and sewer pipe, including more than 6,000 pressure mains transporting sewage.

Challenge: Detecting Bursts

A key focus for the utility is reducing the risk of a pressure main burst, which could allow sewage to escape into the surrounding environment. Anglian Water’s service area includes the longest coastline of any English water system. The utility has invested more than £300 million (~404 million USD) over the last 25 years to help protect the region’s beaches from sewage and other debris. Taking steps to reduce the risk of a sewage spill into the environment is also crucial to avoid potential fines that could be levied for even unintentional spills of untreated sewage. To mitigate this risk, Anglian Water’s strategy includes both prevention and rapid detection of pressure main bursts.

Keeping tabs on thousands of pressure mains is a major challenge, however. To improve its ability to detect these bursts and optimize its operations, Anglian Water embarked on a major program of monitoring its pressure mains.
For help, Anglian Water turned to a trusted partner Syrinix, whose monitoring products were already in use in more than 120 sites throughout the utility’s clean water network. For the burst mitigation project, Anglian Water installed 141 PIPEMINDER-ONE monitors at key locations in pressure mains throughout the utility’s service area. These automated monitors combine accurate pressure monitoring at 128 samples per second with network-synced time stamping, enabling transient event detection. Data is sent via mobile communications networks to the Syrinix RADAR cloud analysis platform, delivering burst alerts whenever pressure main pressure falls below 90 percent of the normal operating level over a period of time — a drop in delivery pressure or static head pressure indicative of a burst.

Syrinix

Accelerating Mitigation

Armed with this information, Anglian Water can dispatch technicians rapidly to the affected area and walk the line to detect the precise burst location. Locating the burst faster reduces the amount of time that the issue is running, minimizing the environmental impact—a strategic priority for the utility.

Building on this initial success, Anglian Water was keen to exploit the data generated by the Syrinix PIPEMINDER-ONE monitors to improve operational performance and efficiency throughout its sewerage system. Initially, this involved a manual process, using burst alert patterns to analyze inefficiencies or monitoring sites with known issues.

“If we see low static head pressure, this lets us know that we have a failed non-return valve. By identifying and mitigating this issue, it reduces our energy cost and wear and tear on the assets and restores our operational capacity,” explains Rebecca Harrison, Optimization Strategy Manager for Anglian Water.

PIPEMINDER-ONE monitors
Anglian Water installed 141 PIPEMINDER-ONE monitors at key locations in pressure mains throughout the utility’s service area. These automated monitors combine accurate pressure monitoring at 128 samples per second with network-synced time stamping, enabling transient event detection.

Revealing Valuable Insights

Analyzing the data revealed pressure transients indicative of problems within the pressure main. In one case, the data indicated a drain back on a non-return valve, causing pumps to run more often than usual. Once the valves were unblocked, the pumps resumed their optimal run patterns. This resulted in a meaningful reduction in energy consumption, while reducing wear and tear on the pumps, valves, and other components impacted.

Monitoring Performance

Encouraged by this success, Anglian Water worked with the Syrinix team to develop a set of performance alerts, tracking data to measure five key performance factors:

  • Good pump/bad pump
  • Low static head
  • High static head
  • Low delivery pressure
  • High delivery pressure

This analysis has revealed a range of performance issues requiring attention, from worn pump impellers to fouled valves to control philosophy issues. This complements the existing telemetry system, providing a clear view of how well assets are performing. To date, Anglian Water has identified more than 50 issues that affect performance and efficiency.

alerts before
Anglian Water installed 141 PIPEMINDER-ONE monitors at key locations in pressure mains throughout the utility’s service area. These automated monitors combine accurate pressure monitoring at 128 samples per second with network-synced time stamping, enabling transient event detection.
alerts after

Modeling Hydraulic Transients

Anglian Water hasn’t stopped there. The utility is now using advanced hydraulic modeling software to perform a deeper analysis of asset performance using the data generated by the Syrinix monitors.

Insights produced by modelling will provide valuable guidance on a range of operational issues — such as how to control pumps to reduce surge in the rising mains, reduce negative pressures, etc. — to optimize performance and minimize wear and tear on assets. The modeling results have helped the Anglian Water team prioritize the most critical projects and perform less costly mitigation where appropriate, helping maximize the impact of capital expenses. Replacing pipes in the ground is extremely costly; modelling has enabled Anglian Water to target improvements that extend the network’s lifecycle, increasing its resilience. Given the utility’s aging asset base, this has the potential to produce significant value by helping extend asset life and make the most efficient use of limited budget resources.

“Modeling the pressure data is one of the greatest value-adds of the monitoring project. It provides specific recommendations on how we can optimize our operations,” Harrison says.

worn pump impellers
This analysis has revealed a range of performance issues requiring attention, from worn pump impellers to fouled valves to control philosophy issues.

Generating Tangible Savings

In addition to improving operational efficiency, the monitoring program has been instrumental in identifying opportunities for financial savings. Rectifying the issues identified by the performance monitoring has already generated more than £30,000/$40,400 per year in energy savings alone, based on completing 30 of the planned 50 mitigations. Add to this the reduced costs associated with investigating bursts. In fact, the utility anticipates a payback to the monitoring and analysis investment within just one year, largely through energy savings. In addition to generating cost savings, this helps support Anglian Water’s commitment to reach carbon net zero by 2030, including both energy conservation and increasing its use of renewable energy sources.

“With any intervention we undertake, we aim for a payback within a year and that seems to be the case for this pressure monitoring project,” Harrison notes.

Anglian Water anticipates other cost savings, as well. Performance monitoring and modelling will help extend the service life of critical assets, generating longer-term cost efficiencies. Armed with accurate data, system managers can performance proactive maintenance, spotting and addressing performance problems early, before they impact component reliability.

In addition, reducing the incidence and impact of sewage leaks will help reduce the costs associated with clean-up and regulatory fines. Water and wastewater utilities in the UK are regulated by the Water Services Regulation Authority, or OFWAT. In recent years, UK water companies have been hit with substantial fines for non-compliance with environmental regulations, including sewage discharges that pollute waterways. Responding rapidly to accidental spills resulting from a main break is crucial for mitigating this risk, while protecting the environment and protecting the utility’s brand.

Most importantly, this data-driven approach to performance monitoring provides the Anglian Water team with visibility into its vast system that informs decisions with the power to improve the service to customers – and you can’t put a price on that.


Lorenzo Pompa

Lorenzo Pompa is SMART Networks Manager at Anglian Water in the United Kingdom, which provides water and sewer services to more than six million customers in the east of England.

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