How Can Pipelines Help To Build Resilience?

Posted on by Mark Esling

Resilience. We’re hearing more and more about this subject in the water and wastewater sector. It has become a priority issue, and this is hardly surprising when one considers the pressure that climate change and population growth are exerting.

Already the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has published  ‘Enabling Resilience in the Water Sector’ – its roadmap to enhancing its policy framework; The Environment Agency has its analysis of the long-term resilience of water supplies in England; Ofwat is evolving its regulatory framework in line with its new duty to further the long-term resilience of the water sector; and Water UK is establishing a Water and Wastewater Resilience Action Group.

Ofwat’s Resilience Task and Finish Group has defined resilience as follows:

“Resilience is the ability to cope with, and recover from, disruption, and anticipate trends and variability in order to maintain services for people and protect the natural environment now and in the future.”

Clearly, the sector must adapt to ensure it can meet the country’s future water needs, and we in the water and sewer pipelines business must play our part in helping clients and their supply chains to achieve this.

So how can pipelines help to build resilience? Of course there is the issue of longevity: specifying ductile iron with a 120 year lifespan wins out over other shorter-lasting materials. And the resilience of coated ductile iron compared to previously used grey iron means the thicker walls of the earlier material are no longer required. Specifiers looking to boost resilience of pipelines should of course be looking for the best quality pipes and fittings: those manufactured in accordance with the latest version of with BS EN 545 and BS EN 598 with each pipe separately tested for pressure and wall thickness continuity along its entire length.

Water efficiency is fundamental to the long-term resilience of water supplies and the environment. Water efficiency measures are going to become increasingly important in the future. Minimising leakage has a key role to play in the improvement of water efficiency, and is another reason why the quality of pipelines will be fundamental to securing long-term resilience.

Also, an important part of boosting pipeline resilience is the issue of early collaboration at the design stage in order to create a truly robust solution. Better collaboration means a better understanding of risk through data sharing. With one of the list of recommendations from Ofwat’s Resilience Task and Finish Group being ‘improve the understanding of risk and failure’ this certainly is a desired outcome.

Building resilience into pipeline networks is only part of the bigger picture of building resilience into the whole of the water and wastewater sector. However, it certainly is an important part of this bigger picture, and one we are already working with our supply chain partners and clients to achieve.

By Mark Esling is the Business Development Director of Saint-Gobain PAM UK. Article reproduced by kind permission of WWT.


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