Dwr Cymru Welsh Water
Innovation Our Challenges Our Water Challenges

Our Water Challenges

As part of our 2050 Vision we have developed strategic responses that will help us produce clean affordable drinking water. These responses are outlined below:

Safeguarding Clean Drinking Water through Catchment Management

Catchments as the first line of defence: we will face increased levels of pesticides, fertilisers, nutrients and pathogens in raw water and increased turbidity of water reaching our water treatment works due to the intensification of agriculture and greater intensity storms. We will co-create an extensive, innovative programme of catchment management with landowners and partners.

We are looking to:

  • Understand the formtion of taste and odour compounds within the catchment, in particular Geosmin and MIB
  • Better understand land management techniques to prevent or limit diffusion and run off from agriculture
  • Install Early warning systems near our intakes which will alert us to pollution problems
  • Reduce Natural Organic Matter which give rise to treatment difficulties and disinfection by products
  • Understandand reduce the risk from cryptosporidium oocysts in our catchments
  • Understand which emerging pollutants will be a threat to drinking water quality in the future and develop techniques to reduce or eliminate this risk.

Enough Water for All

Confronted with an increasing water supply demand gap due to population growth and drier summers due to climate change, we will use our Water Resource Management Plan to ensure the water supply demand balance to 2050. We propose to implement water transfers, demand management measures and leakage reduction programmes to address any deficits, whilst recognising the possible need to support other parts of the UK.

We are looking to:

  • Understand the implementation of and impact of SMART metering in Wales
  • Understand the emerging issues relating to climate change and land use, water quality and water sufficiency.
  • Implement better leakage detection tools and repair techniques

Improving the reliability of drinking water supply systems

Faced with an increased risk of outages due to agricultural run-off, extreme weather events, terrorism and cyber-attacks, we will build more flexibility and integration into our water treatment and supply systems.

We are looking to:

  • Develop resilient supply systems where no more than 5000 properties are fed from a single source
  • Reduce the cost of water treatment and transportation
  • Identify lower cost coagulants
  • Identify treatment solutions that could be used in our water network to remove discolouration
  • Identify improvements to our control systems such as the role of artificial intelligence and cyber security
  • Understand corrosion and degradation of our water mains.
  • Develop small package pumping stations that can resolve issues with low pressure or no water.

Protecting our Critical Water Supply Assets

With increasing risks of disruption (for example, from severe weather events resulting from climate change and increased reliance on technology) and limited customer tolerance of supply outages, we will improve the resilience of critical water assets which have high consequences of failure.

We are looking to:

  • Assess flood risk to critical assets, using a wider historical evidence base than studies to date.
  • Use novel remote techniques to monitor the condition of our dams
  • Use remote operated vehicles to perform tasks under water that would otherwise require divers
  • Use non-intrusive pipe repair technologies

Achieving Acceptable Water Quality for all Customers

Ageing water mains and more extreme weather events increase the risk of supplying water which is discoloured or has a poor taste. This will be addressed through a targeted replacement of iron mains.

We are looking to:

  • Implement chemical free treatment where appropriate
  • Reduce the levels of chlorine in our water and use alternative disinfectants
  • Use novel pipe refurbishment techniques
  • Understand the scope of in pipe robotics and how these can be used to repair and cleanse mains
  • Develop self-cleansing networks

Towards a Lead Free Wales

We have the opportunity to help improve public health and propose a targeted replacement of lead communication and supply pipes, as part of a wider societal effort to address lead in drinking water

We are looking to:

  • Use the most cost effective lead pipe replacement and lining techniques
  • Understand the impact of dissolved organic carbon on plumbosolvency
  • Identify alternative treatment methods for plumbosolvency that do not use phosphate chemicals.

Smart Water System Management

With the opportunity to capitalise on technological advances, we will improve the service performance and resilience of our assets through remote sensing, data analysis and automation; solving problems before they impact on our business or the environment.

We are looking to:

  • Accelerate the adoption of data driven technologies in our water networks.
  • Develop real-time monitoring systems for water quality and quantity from sources to sea.
  • Use Big Data to gain insights into operations and customer service.
  • Develop research projects on the application of robotics, drones, internet of things and artificial intelligence.
  • Improve cyber security to prevent cyber-attacks on our assets and data.

If you think you can offer a solution to any of these challenges, or have something you feel would benefit Welsh Water please submit an idea here.

Aa