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Southern Water Goes Proactive on Sewer Maintenance

John Penicud, Southern Water’s Director of Wastewater Operations, explains why up to a third of all maintenance jobs on sewers are now predictable thanks to artificial intelligence.

By John Penicud, Director of Wastewater Operations

This week, I shared a success story with wastewater industry colleagues from across the UK, about how instead of waiting for customers to report problems, we are now being alerted to possible problems before any pollution can occur.

This artificial intelligence in the Southern Water network now means up to a third of sewer maintenance tasks are being generated proactively – instead of coming from customer calls. This is only expected to grow.

This is because Southern Water has installed 22,000 radar devices in manholes across our 45,000km sewer network to measure flows. Intelligent software monitors the flows and learns when a blockage is forming based on previous flows and behaviour – even in rainy conditions.

In the past we were entirely reactive – today we are proactively finding and fixing risks before an issue can happen. And as the software learns more about the network, we’ll be able to forecast further and further ahead.

I was speaking about this breakthrough at a conference organised by Stormharvester, the Belfast-based supplier of Southern Water’s software, alongside senior representatives of every wastewater company in the country and colleagues here too.

One important topic was storm overflows, and we are committed to cutting their number. With many different contributing facts such as ground water infiltration and control of the network, having strong data from these sensors also helps us to target investment and narrow down the contributory factors to high numbers of releases.

For more information about the new sensors, visit the Southern Water website.