Tapping into industry enthusiasm

With all the atmosphere you would expect from an international sporting event, drilling and tapping teams took to the field for a show down this week.

For those not familiar with the water industry's in-house 'sport' it is essentially high-speed plumbing and sees teams of two compete to connect a service pipe from the mains to household tap via a metering box in the fastest possible time.

There is even an international element, as Dutch and American water companies put up teams to compete alongside the British ones.

To give some idea of how frenetic this can get, the job tends to take around 20 minutes in the outside world but in the drilling and tapping tournaments the top teams are hovering just above the two minute mark.

IWEX, the wing of SustainabilityLive! which caters to the water industry, played host to the latest bout this week seeing the reigning British champions take on all comers for a place in the World Water Cup in Atlanta, Georgia later this year.

"The idea is to show how we go about tapping the main and connecting a service pipe to the boundary of the property," judge Graham Mills told edie.

"It's been going since 1989.

"It was set up to demonstrate how we, as water companies, went about connecting properties to the water network because the public never see it - it's all underground."

To the uninitiated, drilling and tapping has a rulebook that makes cricket look straightforward.

While it is at its heart a straight race, 30 second penalties can be imposed for a bewildering array of misdemeanors, from health and safety violations to sloppy pipework.

Indeed, the outcome of Wednesday's finals was finally decided by a tiny gap in an elbow joint - the defending champions went crashing out when judges ruled the joint was illegal as it was not metal-to-metal.

The champions left the ring muttering darkly that one more turn of the spanner would have seen them victorious.

As it turned out, the winners on the day were Peter Haslop and Danny Hunt of Bournemouth & West Hants Water, with a clean score card and an impressive time of 2 mins 12.12 secs.

No team has ever broken the two minute mark in a national competition.

More information on the sport can be found on the Drilling & Tapping website.

Sam Bond



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