Scottish Water is to use Kando’s data intelligence platform to manage environmental issues and public health concerns arising from its wastewater management.
- Scottish Water will deploy Kando’s data intelligence platform across hundreds of its assets to help detect and address adverse events within its network.
- UK water utilities have a record of water waste and sewage release, directly contributing to a range of environmental issues and public health concerns.
- Demand for utility data technologies will be driven by increased awareness of their potential benefits and the introduction of stricter regulation around data transparency.
Kando’s data intelligence platform uses sensors and machine learning algorithms to gather and analyse wastewater data.
Users will have access to a simplified dashboard that displays insights on wastewater quality across their network, allowing them to quickly prioritise issues that need to be addressed.
Real-time alerts are issued when adverse events – such as blockages or infiltration by ground, storm or seawater – are detected, while automated sampling allows operators to track pollution back to its exact source. Water samples can also be sent to specialist laboratories via Kando’s optional virology service, where they are tested to detect viral outbreaks.
In addition to its benefits for environmental management and public health, Kando claims its solution can help utilities save on repair and maintenance costs through the early identification of problems that could damage network components.
Kando’s newly appointed vice president of community health strategy and services, Dr Andrew Engeli said: “digital water – and digital wastewater – is the future, and Kando is leading the way, turning the vision of a smart, networked wastewater system into a reality that can improve communities and impact lives.”
Steven Boon, a wastewater treatment area manager at Scottish Water added, “we were impressed by the offering, experience, and professionalism from Kando which should enable us to bring this wastewater treatment works back into compliance.”
The failings of UK water utilities
Water companies have a critical role in the treatment and delivery of safe drinking water. They must also remove and dispose of wastewater in an environmentally friendly manner. UK water utilities, however, have not always delivered on these objectives.
Aging infrastructure, for example, has had a severe impact on water availability, with London’s Thames Water reportedly wasting 365 million litres of water per day through leakages.
Periods of drought, as seen around the world during 2022, make this an issue both in the UK and internationally. The need to manage water supplies efficiently and effectively becomes increasingly pressured as water supplies diminish.
Water utilities in the UK have also been criticised for discharging wastewater containing harmful pathogens. According to a 2021 Water Quality Report from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), there were 5,517 sewage discharge notifications made by water companies within England and Wales between October 2020 and September the following year.
This number only includes warnings of sewage pollution that would impact designated bathing waters, while the UK’s Environmental Agency reports the far more alarming figure of 372,533 sewage spillages from just 10 water companies during 2021.
SAS’s report goes on to assess the impact of sewage pollution on public health. It identifies 177 reports of gastroenteritis that were directly linked to water use in 2021, which it says represents a 64% increase in comparison to 2019/20 figures. The report does, however, acknowledge that these issues are poorly documented and difficult to trace.
The rising demand for data solutions
SAS’s attempts to research the public health issues associated with UK wastewater management highlight the need for improved data collection.
This is corroborated by Black & Veatch’s 2020 Smart Utilities Report, which surveyed over 600 stakeholders in the broader utilities sector.
The Smart Utilities report concludes that integrated communications infrastructure, incorporating automation, analytics and asset management, will be a top priority in improving the resilience of ageing utilities.
Its respondents identified the IT and communications sector as one of the key enablers of utility modernisation, which the report’s authors surmise is due to the sector’s ability to improve data communications between traditionally siloed operations.
Smart technologies have already proven their use case in addressing public health concerns, as exemplified by the UK Government’s Environmental Monitoring for Health Protection project, which involved taking samples from sewage treatment works to identify the emergence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus.
Sampling results were shared with local and national authorities to help inform their strategies on how to prevent further transmission. The project was deemed a success and, although it has now been paused, its official webpage notes that wastewater epidemiology is likely to be of significant importance in the future and that further opportunities for the technology should be explored.
Data solutions will also be needed to help the UK’s water industry address its environmental impact, with low-cost sensors backed by internet of things (IoT) technology providing new ways to identify and monitor spillages, leakages and other adverse events occurring within utility networks.
Such technologies will enable water utilities to comply with new legislation, such as the Environment Act 2021, which a variety of measures to tackle sewage discharge including requirements for greater transparency from water companies regarding their storm flow data.
Tighter regulation will help drive demand for utility data solutions, fuelled further as more case studies arise that are able to demonstrate successful results.