Police escort for motors in Cumbrian floods

Flooded treatment works in Cumbria meant emergency measures for United Utilities. Liam Brown, admin manager for ABB Motor Service's partner Central Electrical, reveals how one wastewater plant was helped

ABB Motor Service partner, Central Electrical, swung into emergency response mode to help United Utilities (UU) cope with the November floods that devastated Cockermouth and surrounding areas.

The floods, caused by up to 314mm of rain in parts of the area, forced the evacuation of 1,000 homes and left parts of Cockermouth under nearly 2.5m of water.

United Utilities, the water supplier for the area, had several of its water and wastewater treatment stations flooded. These included Barepot Industrial Water, the Yearl intake for Barepot and Ulpha Water Treatment Works (WtW). Barepot is used by industrial customers in Workington, while Ulpha was re-zoned to Poaka Beck WtW to prevent disruption to customers and to Penrith, Keswick and Cockermouth wastewater treatment works.

Jonathon Deegan-Ross, North Lancashire water maintenance service manager for UU, said: "We realised we had a major problem on our hands at 6.00pm on the Thursday. Motors at Barepot Water Treatment Works were underwater, as were those at our Yearl site, which feeds Barepot from its position three hundred yards away on the River Derwent. We managed to deenergise the power supplies and waited for the floodwater to subside."

On Saturday morning the floodwaters started to recede, giving Deegan-Ross a chance to assess the situation. The Barepot WTW has two 135kW motors and a 200kW motor. "We managed to start drying out the motors but we realised that that we would need to replace or repair them with minimum delay if we were to get back into operation quickly and serve our customers," says Deegan-Ross.

Barepot was the most seriously damaged site and UU was particularly keen to get it operational again in order to serve its industrial customers in the area, which have a water requirement of 35 million litres a day. Deegan-Ross called ABB Motor Service partner Central Electrical of Merseyside, a company they had worked with for a number of years. Within an hour of the call, Central Electrical had engineers dispatched to Cumbria to assess the damage. As well as motors, a number of fuses and a variable speed drive were needed.

Central Electrical made use of the national ABB Motor Service partner network, drawing on their extensive local stock to replace motors that could not be repaired. Central Electrical dedicated two vans to collecting motors from ABB Motors' service partners and getting them modified to suit the mechanical mounting arrangements at either their Knowsley workshop or in UU own workshops in Cumbria.

Such was the urgency that the Central Electrical vans carrying the motors were given a police escort to the site in Cumbria where they arrived at 2.00am Sunday - just 15 hours after receiving the initial call for assistance. Thirteen motors were brought for repair at Central Electric's workshop in Knowsley.

Working on a 24-hour turn round, they were cleaned and repaired with their bearings replaced and were back operating on site on the Wednesday following the flood weekend.

Says Deegan-Ross: "Central's performance was very good, particularly since it was out of hours. They arranged transport as well, which was another challenge as many of the bridges in the area were down or closed, meaning extra long journeys. These efforts helped us get water supplies back online very quickly. With Central's help, the floods meant supplies were disrupted only from Thursday to Sunday, which helped us maintain the confidence of some our biggest customers."

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