Yellow submarines keep tap water clean


Underwater inspection robots resembling yellow submarines are being used to maintain top quality tap water in the North East.

Northumbrian Water is using the state-of-the-art, remote controlled submersibles to inspect underground storage service reservoirs.

The robots - named “Ringo” and “Macca” after the yellow submarine from the hit Beatles song - were put through their paces to beam back pictures from inside a service reservoir at a treatment works, near Chester le Street, County Durham.

And the underground and underwater health check provided an equally unusual assignment for a group of performing arts youngsters from Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland.

The students, aged 11 to fourteen, who get tap water into their Wearside homes from the works, were asked to perform the famous yellow submarine song as a fitting sound track for filming.

Use of the submersible ROV’s (remotely operated underwater vehicles) is an innovative new method of inspection for Northumbrian Water.

It can be carried out efficiently with the reservoir still in service minimising potential disruption to customers.

The conditions inside can be seen without having to empty the reservoir and avoiding waste of treated water. It also aids advance planning should work be seen to be need to be done.

Treated water is stored in service reservoirs to be supplied to the mains network and on to customers pipes and consequently there is meticulous care to maintain a carefully disinfected, clean and sterile environment.

Service reservoirs are vital as they allow supply and pressure to be maintained during peak demand periods and provide contingency in case of burst mains or mechanical breakdown.

Paul Richardson, Northumbrian Water’s Project Manager, said: “ By using these submarines we are able to carry out thorough inspections while ensuring the supply through the storage reservoir is totally unaffected. It’s an innovative use of new technology which can be done quickly, efficiently and safely while the water is still in use.

“Submarine inspection means less disruption for customers and that top tap water quality is maintained. In the words of the famous Beatles song: “as we live a life of ease. . . everyone of us has all we need . . . sky of blue and sea of green in our yellow submarine!”

Paul Henderson, Sales Director, of Borders-based contractors Panton McLeod, the UK’s leading water quality engineering company which operates the submarines, said: “We asked the pilots who operate the ROV’s to label the robots for recording purposes and because they were yellow and submarines they came up with the names of the two remaining Beatles.

“Being from the region it is always great to support Northumbrian Water and on this project we were even able to supply all of the engineers from our South Tyneside regional office.

“We’ve built strong relations with Northumbrian Water through previous projects and we are delighted to be able to work with them again to ensure that drinking water standards remain at the highest levels and look forward to working with them in the future.”

Castle View Enterprise Academy yellow submarine singing group:

Liam Hardy, aged 11, from Townend Farm; Jake Hutchinson, aged 12, Castletown; Jessie Mills, aged 14, Downhill; Bethany Copeland, aged 14, Castletown; Stephanie Seymour, aged 13, Townend Farm; Leanne Stockdale, aged 14, Castletown and Chelsea Burns, aged 14, from Hylton Castle.

Water facts:

• The service reservoirs at the treatment works near Chester le Street hold up to 13.5 million litres which is the equivalent of more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools.

• Northumbrian Water has so far used submersible ROV’s to inspect 25 of it 365 service reservoirs which are located at more than 230 locations throughout the North East.

• The total all those reservoirs can store is 1.7 billion litres, the equivalent of 680 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

• Between 2010-2015 Northumbrian Water will have invested more than £26 million to inspect, maintain, repair and renew its service reservoirs.

• Northumbrian Water serves about 2.7 million customers from the Scottish Borders, down to North Yorkshire and across to the Pennines.

For further media information contact: Alistair Baker, Northumbrian Water’s Communications & PR Manager: 0191 3016851 / 07711 793493.

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