In a UK first, a collaboration between Amey, United Utilities and jetting equipment supplier Jetchem, has led to the development of two new pieces of kit that prevent customers’ properties being flooded by sewage and reduce the cost of keeping them clear.

Customers affected by sewer defects and blockages can now avoid the inconvenience of having sewage that’s flooded their properties being drawn off by a tanker every day. Instead, a new Interceptor Draw Off System (IDOS) unit can be easily installed close to their property to automatically remove and store any excess waste which only requires emptying once a week or so. The mains or solar powered unit, can be put in any location including carparks, cellars and gardens.

To tackle flooding proactively, the water company has also come up with a new drainage monitor device that aims to stop sewers from flooding people’s properties in the first place. The monitor is fitted in the manhole of a sewer close to homes that have previously been flooded. When the sewer starts filling up the monitor sends an alert to United Utilities’ Integrated Control Centre at its Warrington HQ so that staff can send out a crew to investigate. By acting early, this can help prevent the sewer flooding altogether.

United Utilities’ technicians, Chris Burns and Luke Woolley, worked with Amey and Jetchem to design both pieces of equipment. The tools were designed in response to a challenge set by Amey to make the draw-off process more efficient and cost-effective, led by Account Director, Zak Howarth, and engineer Mick Crook, with United Utilities agreeing to fund the pilot.

Chris explained: “We took around six months to develop and trial both technologies and have been successfully using them in the Manchester area for the past two years. Putting these new pieces of equipment into practice has helped us significantly reduce sewer flooding at customers’ properties.

“The IDOS unit not only prevents sewage flooding into people’s properties, it also eliminates the need for constant site attendance by engineers which saves both time and money and avoids inconveniencing customers by having to repeatedly enter their properties.

“The installation of the low-cost drainage monitor in areas of the network where we carry the highest risk acts as an early warning sign and means we can proactively clear the blockage preventing internal flooding, external flooding and pollution incidents.”

Zak added: “Work of this nature is essential but has a big impact on customers. Amey is committed to working with United Utilities to make sure we can make the best decisions and tap into new technology, expertise and skills to work as efficiently as possible and deliver the best service to customers.

“We’re very pleased to see these tools rolled out after a successful trial period and look forward to further collaboration with United Utilities in continuously improving our processes and further reducing disruption for customers.”

Paul Taylor, Managing Director of Jetchem Systems Limited, added: “The IDOS system is a completely modular design, and has the potential to be installed in almost any location at risk of flooding, operational by mains power, solar panels or even battery. This cuts costs which have been proven and reduces draw off visits. The Drain Monitor is placed in a chamber or manhole and alerts the end user when the levels are high, this reduces unnecessary site visits, saving time and money.”

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