Preventing Storm Overflows With Effective Digital Monitoring

The UK Government has recently announced that the Environment Bill will be amended to legally require water companies to progressively reduce the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows. Here William Jeal, Head of Sales Development at Veolia Water Technologies discusses how the Hubgrade digital monitoring solution is ideal to help companies meet this new requirement.

The Environment Bill has been created by the Government with the aim to transform how the UK protects its natural environment, make better use of its resources and improve its air and water quality. Due to be enacted by the end of 2021, the Environment Bill has recently been amended to make it a legal requirement for water companies to progressively reduce the adverse environmental impacts of storm overflow discharges from their sites.

During heavy rainfall, storm overflows are used to release diluted wastewater into nearby rivers to prevent a combination of sewage and rain from overloading the sewerage network. However, with the increased rainfall seen in recent years, the use of overflows has risen as the water sector’s infrastructure has fallen behind.

This comes after the Government’s set of strategic priorities that were published for Ofwat earlier this year. These priorities outlined how water companies should significantly reduce the likelihood of storm overflows and that Ofwat must ensure it approves funding to allow them to do so. The amendment serves as a way for the Government to further strengthen its approach to tackling storm overflows and its contribution to water pollution.

With this in mind, it is crucial that water companies take the necessary steps to prevent the need for storm overflows, such as implementing a digital monitoring system that can effectively manage their sewerage networks. For example, Veolia Water Technologies UK offers Hubgrade – a smart digital monitoring service that can be used on a single technology, a range of equipment or even a complete sewerage system.

By choosing Hubgrade, water companies can utilise three innovative services – Essential, Assist and Performance – to combine digital tools with Veolia expertise to make their water processes smarter. Wastewater treatment plants affected by storm overflows can also benefit from modules such as Sewer Flex, specifically designed to manage sewerage systems from Hubgrade’s Performance service, and Sewer View, to provide a dynamic overview of the complete sewerage network.

Sewer Flex has already been implemented across a number of sites in Denmark to resolve the issue of storm overflows. In Kolding, BlueKolding wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) utilised Sewer Flex to reduce its number of storm overflow events from 35 to just 10 events per year. Furthermore, when compared to the alternative solution of constructing a basin for overflow reduction, this Sewer Flex installation resulted in a 50% saving in capital investment. 

The Sewer Flex system has also been used by BIOFOS at its site of operations in Copenhagen. Set up to provide an inflow forecast for the site’s catchment, the Sewer Flex system is able to analyse the forecast and activate Stormwater Mode in advance of a storm water event, increasing the site’s hydraulic capacity. With a forecast horizon of two to six hours, this mode enables BIOFOS WWTP to significantly reduce its storm overflow discharges into the local environment.

Finally, Sewer View was utilised by the municipality of Rudersdal in a measurement campaign of its sewerage network. In this campaign, 40 flow measurement points were set up to accumulate important information on the number of storm overflow events that took place over the course of a year. All data quality checks and reports were produced by Sewer View and enabled the municipality to implement a number of changes to its infrastructure so that it would be better equipped to deal with storm events going forward.

With the Environment Bill coming into force shortly, it is crucial that water companies in the UK ensure they reduce their use of storm overflows effectively to avoid significant penalties. By implementing digital monitoring solutions from an expert water treatment company that is experienced in controlling sewerage networks, such as Hubgrade, water companies can deliver on the Environment Bill’s ambition and prevent storm overflow events in the future.

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William Jeal

About the Author

William Jeal

William has a background of working with a wide range of industrial, public sector and municipal customers. William's career in the water sector started with a start up services business focused on working with commercial, industrial and public sector organisations to manage their water and wastewater usage, costs and environmental compliance. Having grown and developed this business for 5 years William then joined Veolia Water Technologies in 2015 to focus on growing its wastewater technologies activities in the Municipal market. In 2019 William took responsibility for leading Veolia's Municipal Services Business as well as its Digital Services Business across all sectors in the UK. With a strong focus on commercial and service innovation William has been responsible for a number of development projects including involvement in the development of Veolia’s global AQUAVISTA platform of real time control and optimization services.