Chances for cellar flooding are drying up thanks to two new inventions

In a UK first, United Utilities, in partnership with Amey and Jetchem, has developed two innovative pieces of kit that help 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 has the potential to flood their properties, being drawn off by a tanker every day. Instead, a new unit can be easily installed close to their property to automatically remove and store any excess waste. The mains or solar powered Interceptor Draw Off System (IDOS) unit can be put in any location including car parks, cellars and gardens.

To tackle flooding proactively, the water company and its partners have also designed a new drainage monitor device to detect when a sewer could potentially flood a property. 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 warning staff of the need to investigate.

United Utilities’ technicians, Chris Burns and Luke Woolley worked with Amey account manager Zak Howarth and engineer Mick Crook along with Bury-based water jetting company, Jetchem, to design both pieces of equipment to make the draw-off process more efficient and cost-effective. After a successful trial in Manchester, United Utilities is looking to roll out this equipment to other areas in the region that would benefit.

Chris Burns of United Utilities explained: “We took around six months to develop and trial both of these technologies. Putting them into practice has helped us significantly reduce sewer flooding at customers’ properties.

“The IDOS unit 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,” he added.

Kevin Fowlie United Utilities’ network and capital delivery director, commented “Innovation plays a vital part in providing customers with the service they expect. We encourage our employees and partners to collaborate with each other and our wider supply chain. This has been a great example of what can be achieved when we all work together.”

Zak Howarth from Amey commented: “Work of this nature is essential but has a big impact on customers. We’re committed to working with United Utilities to make sure we can 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 to improve processes and further reduce 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 batteries. 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.”