Yorkshire Water is using technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to reduce wastewater network blockages and pollution and improve the performance of its sewer network.
It has teamed up with the University of Sheffield and Siemens Digital Industries to develop an innovative blockage predictor solution, which identifies problems quickly, enabling Yorkshire Water to attend and rectify issues before they escalate.
The AI in the new blockage predictor tool identified nine in 10 potential issues – three times more successful than existing Yorkshire Water pollution prediction processes that relied on statistical methods – with an ongoing trial across 70 sites in the region giving up to two weeks advance notice of blockages.
The AI technology – which evaluates the characteristics and performance of the sewer network in real time and predicts problems before they happen – also helped reduce the number of false positive alerts by 50%.
The project is part of Yorkshire Water’s Pollution Incident Reduction Plan 2020/25, which is targeting a 50% reduction in pollution incidents by focusing on early intervention.
Heather Sheffield, Manager of Operational Planning and Technology at Yorkshire Water said: “The results of the innovative trial across the region have been very positive. The data has allowed us to identify problems with our network quickly, giving our teams the opportunity to attend before pollution incidents occur.
“Our partnership with Siemens and the University of Sheffield illustrates our commitment to investing in cutting-edge technology to provide a data-driven approach.
“The solution could have a significant role to play in reducing the number of pollution incidents, which can have a negative impact on the environment, as well as increasing our efficiency and providing improved value to our customers.”
Yorkshire Water is using the project as a testbed for emerging technologies to respond to the demands from the Environment Agency and water regulator Ofwat to reduce pollution incidents and produce more accurate and reliable reporting data.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow added: “It’s encouraging to see water companies using new innovations like this to solve practical problems like preventing pollution from blockages in our sewerage systems. Water companies have a huge responsibility to manage wastewater in this country and they have some way to go to drive pollution incidents down to zero by 2025.
“The health of our rivers and waterways is a huge priority for this government. That’s why we have asked every water company to implement a Pollution Incident Reduction Plan which the Environment Agency will monitor and where needed, push for more progress.”