Robot submarine helps plug leaks in ageing drinking water reservoir

An innovative underwater robot has been helping to keep drinking water supplies pure at an ageing Victorian reservoir in Weston- Super-Mare.

Mr Henderson and the robot

Mr Henderson and the robot

Utility company Bristol Water introduced a remotely operated robot (ROV) to inspect the historic service reservoir after it sprung a leak.

Paul Henderson, operations director at water treatment firm Panton McLeod, which provided the machine, said: "Before we began using the ROV unit, the only way water facility inspections could be carried out was by completely draining the facility and having engineers physically going into the tanks to inspect them.

"Bristol Water contacted us to see if we could help locate the source of a leak that was undetectable using traditional methods.

"They took the reservoir out of supply as an additional precaution but kept the facility full of water so that we could identify any problems.

"The fact that our machine completed a successful inspection and was able to detect the possible source of the leak shows the real value that it has have in keeping vital water supplies up and running."

The ROV, which is fitted with lights and cameras, has previously been used to do inspection work for some of the UK's biggest water companies.

It means companies do not have to drain water holding facilities and disrupt customer supplies while inspections take place.

But in this case Bristol Water took the reservoir out of service as a precaution to protect the area's water supplies.

The robot found cracks in the tank walls of the tank and research is underway into the best way to repair them.

The inspection is the first robotic work Panton McLeod has done for Bristol Water on a live facility in the region.

It follows a successful trial of the technology at the Timsbury Reservoir last year, which allowed Bristol Water to check the equipment posed no risks to water quality standards.

David Gibbs



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