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Thames Water and project partners awarded £1.5million to drive innovation

  • Thames Water and project partners awarded £1.5million to drive innovation
    Credit: Thames Water
  • Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge has awarded £1.5million to four Thames Water led projects which will help customers, communities, and the environment
  • The projects will focus on incentivising community rainwater management, standardising digital technology, seasonal forecasting tools and using robots in pressurised sewage systems 
  • The Water Breakthrough Challenge is designed to drive innovation and collaboration in the water sector
  • Thames Water’s £1.5million award is part of the £39million Water Breakthrough Challenge fund being issued this year. Further projects to receive funding will be announced in the Spring

About the entity

Thames Water
Every day, we serve 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.
Analytical Technology (ATi)
Thames Water has been awarded £1.5million by Ofwat, to lead four projects which will support the water sector to better meet the needs of customers, communities, and the environment.
 
Ofwat has awarded 13 projects at a total of £5.2m of funding through the Water Breakthrough Challenge, which will use new technology and cross-sector collaboration to improve water quality, reduce pollution and enhance services for consumers.
 

Thames Water will work in partnership with water companies, universities, and government organisations, to provide innovative solutions to some of the challenges facing the water industry including extreme weather events, maintaining and improving ageing infrastructure and protecting the environment.

Thames Water will work in partnership with water companies, universities, and government organisations, to provide innovative solutions

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water CEO, said: “I’m passionate about using innovation to improve the way we deliver life’s essential service and meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population and ageing assets. So, I’m delighted that we’ve received the £1.5 million funding for these projects, which will help us protect our precious rivers and streams, build resilience and protect our network for years to come. It’s fantastic to be able to work alongside some great partner organisations who share our drive to innovate and shape the future. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these projects.”

Between now and the summer, the Water Breakthrough Challenge will award up to £39m to projects across England and Wales. The Water Breakthrough Challenge is part of a series of competitions from Ofwat, and run by Nesta Challenges with Arup and Isle Utilities, designed to drive innovation and collaboration in the sector to benefit individuals, society and the environment. Today (March 22 2022) £5.2m has been allocated as part of the catalyst stream and the winners of the further £34m of funding will be announced later in the Spring for the Transform stream.

Harry Armstrong, Director, Ofwat said: “It is great to see the water sector deliver more exciting and impactful projects through this round of Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge. The winners all have huge potential to benefit people, society and the natural environment. I’m excited to see these projects become reality and start to make a real difference in the way we do things.” 

An overview of the four Thames Water innovation projects

  • Pipebots for rising mains – Led by Thames Water in partnership with Wessex Water, Dwr Cymru, Sheffield University and Synthotech . This project will trial robots to carry out inspections in pressurised sewage pipes to help prevent bursts and pollutions.
  • Sub-Seasonal Forecasting to Improve Operational Decision Making – Led by Thames Water in partnership with Met Office, Northumbrian Water, United Utilities, Anglian Water, Bristol Water, Southern Water, Severn Trent, South West Water and Wessex Water. This project will create a reliable weather impact modelling and forecasting system which will help water companies forecast weather events beyond 10-14 days to 4-6 weeks. This will help the water industry better manage its resources and operational management capabilities for dry and wet weather events. 
  • Incentivising community-centric rainwater management – Led by Thames Water in partnership with Anglian Water, South West Water, Indepen management consultancy, Isle Utilities and Our Rainwater. This project will trial community incentivisation schemes for rainwater management, to help stop excess surface water from entering the sewer network.
  • Unlocking digital twins – Led by Thames Water in partnership with Severn Trent and Information Junction. A ‘digital twin’ is a virtual representation of a water company’s physical assets or processes, for example a digital version of its pipe network and water treatment process. Water companies use these digital twins to unlock new data-driven innovations, which can improve their services and how they manage their networks for the benefit of customers. More companies are using digital twins but there is no agreed standard model and process for creating them, which has the potential to create inefficiencies, reduce the value delivered by these systems and increase costs. This project will create standards to support consistent digital twins throughout the industry.

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