BETWEEN 2020 and 2025, we’re investing £120 million to improve the reliability and acceptability of our drinking water supply across some of our lesser performing water quality zones, so that our customers continue to receive a fresh supply of drinking water for decades to come.

Welsh Water and API (Advanced Pipe Inspection) are delighted to announce our new innovative water camera system to investigate the condition of these supply pipes which has already delivered several benefits to our customers, the environment and to the company.

Traditionally, teams would dig trial holes to assess and survey pipes, taking more time, greater planning, and resources. The new camera system enters the water main via existing fire hydrants and creates a live video recording of the size and condition of the pipe. Thereby avoiding digging in the road which reduces disruption to our customers.

Trystan Davies, Programme Manager for Welsh Water who created and led the improvement initiative said “innovation is critically important to overcoming current and future challenges and working collaboratively with the supply chain allows us to focus on solving a common problem outside of the normal client – contractor relationship. Utilising the collective knowledge and experience of the group helped us learn and develop new capabilities in an iterative fashion to make greater improvements.”

Through this new way of working there is far less disruption to our customers as the process is approximately three times quicker and a far smoother method for our teams. Also, our work force will spend less time in highways and on busy roads, making it a safer working environment. Furthermore, the teams have witnessed up to 74% savings in cost per survey and a fall in carbon costs by up to 92% per survey.

However, the camera was not the only innovative outcome of the initiative. Welsh Water teamed up with Kenton Pearce of AVK to create a world’s first see through printed 3D model of our fire hydrants to allow us to understand how the equipment will work. Following this the camera were able to be assessed and improved to become the latest product they are today.

Key stakeholders from Welsh Water, API, AVK and Morrison Utility Services came together in November 2021 to demonstrate and display the advanced technology.

Clive Webster of API said, “The smaller cameras can enter the water main via existing fire hydrants to access 10 metres of pipe instead of 2 inches of pipe and to create a video recording to display the pipe size, condition and the amount of sediment in the pipe.”

Jon Prout, Civil Structural Engineering Manager for Welsh Water, said “A much smaller team of two people can now carry out 6 to 10 surveys a day instead of 2 to 3 through traditional methods, and even work with no traffic management in place, which is beneficial especially within a busy area such as Aberystwyth or Newport.”

The group are currently working on the next phases of improvement to further reduce health and safety risks, customer disruption, environmental impact, and cost.

This project formed part of the multi-million-pound Zonal Studies investment made by the not-for-profit company to improve services to customers and help protect the environment. Between 2020 and 2025, the company is set to invest a further £1.8 billion across the country.