• Thames-tideway tunnel – keeping an eye on the largest water industry project in 150 years
    Drainage infrastructure image: © Justin Dunning, 2018


Thames-tideway tunnel – keeping an eye on the largest water industry project in 150 years

Sep 02 2019

The UK’s wastewater and stormwater drainage systems face pressure from climate change, urbanisation and population rise, presenting an ever-increasing need to monitor and even control the flows and conditions within our sewer networks. At SWIG’s Sensing in Water this year they will discuss these issues and others on 25 September 2019.

This is perhaps most prevalent in the UK’s capital city, which once experienced ‘The Great Stink’ due to the amount of wastewater polluting the River Thames, and where around £5bn is being invested in the biggest upgrade of a British sewer system in the last 150 years to reduce the amount of sewer overflows. The new tunnel and its associated infrastructure will include automated penstocks, valves and pumping stations, enabling real-time control of the wastewater flow, and reduction of combined sewer overflow events. The operation of these devices is designed to be entirely automated, save for a manual switch to ‘extreme weather’ mode according to weather forecasts. This kind of automation can only be enabled through a wealth of sensor data (measured in this case using flow meters and level sensors) collected at various points in the network, and at pumping stations and treatment works.

These kinds of development suggest promising times for wastewater network managers, but all too often, when faced with an aging network and in the absence of large infrastructure investment, we are limited by the technology available. Advances in sensor technology and real time control enable more accurate, robust and cost-effective monitoring and management solutions in challenging and remote network assets. This session will explore newly available technologies, state-of-the-art academic studies, and the challenges that need to be overcome to generate a step-change in our management of drainage networks. 


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