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Scottish Water uses high-tech to solve historic sewer problem

  • Scottish Water uses high-tech to solve historic sewer problem

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Scottish Water
We are a publicly owned company, answerable to the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland. It's our job to provide 1.34 billion litres of drinking water every day and take away 847 million litres of waste water daily.


Scottish Water has turned to ultra high-pressure robotics in a UK-first to remove decades of industrial deposits blocking a strategic sewer in South Lanarkshire.

Nearly a kilometre of Rutherglen’s Eastfield trunk sewer had become clogged with concrete-like calcite and suspected hazardous materials running under former industrial land. All efforts to safely remove them using conventional methods such as jetting, and diamond-tipped milling heads had proved unsuccessful.

But then Scottish Water Project Manager Marc McKinnie started speaking to people in the publicly owned utility’s supply chain, including delivery partner George Leslie Ltd. He said: “As a project team we rapidly understood that typical methods would not work here and that we needed to be inventive.

“We started to ask around and one of our suppliers told us about a new robotic cutter on the market in Germany capable of operating at 40,000 pounds-per-square-inch with outstanding precision.

“This is the first of its kind to be used in the UK and one of only three worldwide, and it has made all the difference.

“In just three months we have been able to clean the entire kilometre of sewer – something we had been struggling to achieve for several year using conventional methods.”

Scottish Water has turned to ultra high-pressure robotics in a UK-first to remove decades of industrial deposits blocking a strategic sewer in South Lanarkshire

The robot works by directing narrow, ultra high-pressure jets of water onto the hard deposits, effectively ‘cutting’ them into smaller pieces. The technique is safe for the environment and ensures potentially hazardous materials from historic industrial sites can be flushed out and safely disposed of.

Robert Emans, Operations Manager at Enviro-Clean (Scotland) Ltd said: “We are excited to have been able to support Scottish Water in finding an innovative approach to the problem and successfully demonstrating the capability of the Ultra High-Pressure Robotic Cutter.

“It really is a game changer for us, allowing greater versatility in tackling stubborn blockages in sewers from 10cm to a metre wide, coupled with constant CCTV monitoring allowing our team to ensure precision cutting.

“It also significantly reduces time on-site, cuts costs and lowers our carbon footprint providing a greener solution.

“Enviro-Clean continues to invest in cutting edge technology, to provide the safest solutions possible, keeping us at the forefront of the waste water industry.”

Marc McKinnie added: “It was beginning to look like the only option would be to dig up and replace the sewer – which would have been disruptive and extremely expensive - so it was exciting to be a part of pioneering new technologies to address challenging projects.

“Thanks to the inspiration and enthusiasm of our delivery partners, we have achieved a great result.

“This shows how working together we can deliver great value for our customers and benefits to the environment, helping Scottish Water achieve its aim of delivering net zero emissions by 2040 and beyond.

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