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Tim O’Brien

CEO, Metasphere

Phil Tomlinson

Commercial Director EMEA, Metasphere

Ret Mathieson

Group Marketing Manager, Metasphere

Water companies are being supported by a range of innovative technologies to help them gain better control over potential spillages and pollution incidents.

Technological solutions are playing a pivotal role in wastewater management across the UK to maintain water quality and reduce pollution.

A widening deployment of monitors are giving early warnings of potential spillages or overflows of wastewater, while artificial intelligence (AI) approaches use machine-learning analytics to predict future incidents, enabling utility companies to rapidly mobilise response teams.

Control spillages

Industry expert, Tim O’Brien, explains that utilities can discharge rainwater, domestic sewage and industrial wastewater through Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) during certain weather events.

But an increasing population and industrial demands on the water network, as well as a changing regulatory landscape, mean utility companies are under increasing pressure to control spillages and unplanned escapes to prevent pollution. As utility companies plan for 2025-2030, O’Brien explains that a broad industry-wide goal, supported by technological innovation, is to reduce spillages to zero.

Poor visibility

Utilities can have poor visibility of networks but that can be improved by mass deployment of IoT (Internet of Things) low-power technologies to monitor wastewater levels and reduce spills, cut pollution, and improve performance and forecasting.

Currently, 86% of waterways in England are below expected water quality standards, with wastewater spills a major contributor to the contamination. But as technology becomes smaller and cheaper, it can be more widely deployed for increased monitoring with data from IoT devices sent to the cloud for analysis and storage.

Technology allows water companies to create less pollution and respond more quickly.

Phil Tomlinson

Pre-emptive response

As the data accrues, analysis by machine- learning systems can identify patterns and the capability of a pipeline to deal with an influx of rain.

This alerts control rooms, enabling responses to wastewater spills to become pre-emptive rather than reactionary.

Wastewater management specialist, Metasphere, works with water companies to offer hi-tech IoT solutions to intelligently manage wastewater networks by combining wastewater level data with historic, current and forecast rainfall data, O’Brien, who is Metasphere’s CEO, says: “When you add in machine-learning, you can forecast up to 30 hours ahead, learn how a particular network area will behave and then start detecting partial blockages before they occur.”

Zero pollution

Eliminating spillages avoids utilities being fined for incidents that can also result in environmental and reputational damage and clean-up costs. Metasphere’s Commercial Director, Phil Tomlinson, says: “The key point is that companies can utilise technology to get visibility and an understanding of what is going on in their network. Technology allows water companies to create less pollution and respond more quickly.”

Group Marketing Manager, Ret Mathieson, adds that the advance of technologies leads to “better wastewater network monitoring.” While supporting utilities to achieve zero pollution, the company emphasises that householders, landowners, industry and pharmaceutical firms have a role to play by cutting discharge of pollutants, or phosphates running off the land and people not putting fat or plastic wipes into the system to create potential blockages.

Company profile:

Metasphere is a wastewater application specialist business and has been providing monitoring solutions to the global utility industry since the mid-1980s. The company liaises with all sectors of the industry; from 25 major utility companies worldwide to environmental and regulatory bodies. 

Using the latest technology, the company delivers intelligent, innovative all-in-one telemetry solutions that provide full network visibility, performance and forecasting that reduce telemetry ownership cost for customers to help manage time-critical remote assets and systems.

Metasphere use telemetry to drive sustainable use of the world’s natural resources, helping customers to prevent leaks and spills for a cleaner, greener world.

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