CIWEM awards showcase sewage innovations

A high-speed simulator that helps water companies come up with the cheapest way to prevent sewer flooding. A series of ponds that use the sun, wind, and ecosystems to break down a village's effluence.

These were some of the projects that received recognition at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management's annual dinner and awards ceremony.

An audience of MPs, officials from government departments, environment and water management professionals, consultants, contractors and water companies attended the gala event.

FastNett, a high-speed sewer network stimulator developed by the Ewan Group consultancy, won the Ken Roberts award for technical innovation in the water industry.

Sewage flooding is a major problem for the industry, and Ofwat has allocated water firms £1.08 billion to spend on fixing existing problems and preventative measures. But the regulator has specified that water firms must find ten per cent of cost savings, and FastNett is one tool that could make this task easier.

When the system was tested by Yorkshire Water, it managed to halve the cost of a £881,000 project.

This is the second award the system has scooped so far this year. In January it picked up the top prize in the business intelligence category of the Information Management Awards.

Ewan technical director Richard Long said: "This recognition is wonderful for both Ewan and FastNett and for all the work that has been put into it in recent years. We've received accolades for FastNett from outside the industry, but winning the Ken Roberts Award in its final year and being recognised from within the water and environmental industry is even more rewarding for everyone involved."

At the other end of the scale, the CIWEM Small Living Wetlands prize went to the Scrayingham Ecological Wastewater Treatment System. When the Yorkshire village realised its sewage treatment system needed to be replaced, it opted for a more sustainable solution.

Waste from the village passes through a series of rock filters, then ponds where bacteria break it down until it is safe to be released into the river.

But the project is more than just a green waste treatment plant. The ponds and the wildlife they attract are an attractive feature in the landscape.

The Little Ouse Headwater Project won the RSPB/CIWEM Living Wetlands award. The charity was set up by local residents to protect the existing wetlands. But the team is also recreating a wildlife corridor in the river valley, replacing fens, meadows and bends in the river.

On hearing her project had won, the chairman of LOHP, Jo-Anne Pitt, said: "We are a voluntary organisation with no paid staff, so this success will be a great encouragement to everyone who has devoted time to the project over the last few years."

Jess McCabe



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