Investing to protect the water network

Investment in the security of the water network has moved beyond the legislated upgrades required of our service reservoirs. Michael Miles of Technocover looks at new areas of focus for enhancing the protection of water infrastructure

For the past ten years, under the Code of Practice for the Security of Service Reservoirs (1997), UK water companies have implemented significant upgrades to ensure potable water supplies meet a legal standard of security.

The code dictates that access points to supplies such as access covers, doors, escape hatches and vents must be fitted with products carrying Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) third-party testing and accreditation of security performance.

The legislation extends to service reservoirs, water storage tanks, water towers, as well as elements of the water treatment process.

But efforts to enhance security have not been exclusively focused on meeting service reservoir legislation. Other directives, initiatives and quality commitments have galvanised water companies into tackling security in other areas.

Safeguarding the whole of the supply

network is fundamental to complying with EU directives. And, in line with the World Health Organisation’s water safety plan approach, UK water companies are managing drinking water risk source to tap. And the latest government announcement will push the water companies’ remit for security even wider.

The planned transfer of ownership of private sewers and lateral drains to the statutory water and sewerage companies (WaSC) in England and Wales will pose additional security issues. The transfer is likely to include surface water drains, foul and surface water sewers, private treatment works and pumping stations. It will increase the network owned and managed by WaSCs by about 35%.

Although it will enable integrated management of the sewerage system as a whole, the extent and condition of these sewers and laterals – and security needs – are unknown. We are yet to see what level of investment and security provision will be required in overhauling the sewer system, now seen as a key contributor to the growing problem of urban flooding.

While the security of potable water assets has been a long-standing priority, water companies have inevitably been taking a holistic view of security, prioritising and implementing upgrades in other operational areas. A number of water companies are already specifying LPCB-approved products for water treatment installations, chlorine dosing, telemetry, alarm systems and other sensitive plant, plus secure storage of chemicals and gases.

They are also installing secure units to deter accidental or deliberate contamination of water courses. And all this is ahead of a new security standard, currently under development, covering all operational assets.

Technocover supplies a range of LPCB-approved high-security access covers and associated equipment to the service reservoir security programme. LPCB third-party approval has become the benchmark for security performance in the water industry as there is currently no BS or EN security standard for access covers, cabinets and doors.

Products in Technocover’s clean-water range include Ultrasecure upstand and flush-fitting access covers, doors, panels, cabinets, escape hatches, louvres, cylinder clamps, buildings and enclosures with LPCB security rating 2, 3 and 4.

The company has also been expanding its wastewater range with further LPCB level 3 and 4 approved products to meet evolving needs beyond the potable water network. New additions have included Ultrasecure enclosures/modular buildings with LPCB security rating 4 approval for chemical storage, process plant, control and monitoring equipment assessed as high risk.

The company has also developed a series of doors, enclosures and modular buildings, approved to LPCB security rating 3, for lower-risk sites. The latest development is the Ultrasecure cylinder clamp, a universal device for securing a range of gas or chemical cylinders.

Approved to LPCB security level 2, the maximum required for this type of product, the clamp allows easy loading and unloading of all typical-sized BOC and INEOS cylinders. The design has minimal footprint but provides robust locking points for wall or floor fixing, as well as padlocking and fully removable locking arms. As with all Technocover’s security products, the clamp is post-galvanised with a Duragalv long-life zinc coating for extra durability.

Theft prevention

Whether for clean water or wastewater applications, the main purpose of these units is to protect infrastructure, especially points of access, storage facilities and service installations, against vandalism, terrorism and malicious attempts to contaminate and disrupt the network. They are also in demand to combat the growing problem of materials theft, especially of metal for its scrap value.

LPCB third-party approval of security performance signifies that a product will defend against assessed risks of attack. But access systems and related equipment will need to meet other important performance criteria and regulations, notably for operational safety.

Under the CDM regulations, designers have a duty of care to safeguard employees using equipment. In the case of dry-well access covers, for instance, lids that will be routinely lifted must be hinged and spring-assisted to a maximum opening/closing effort of 25kg. This reduces the risk of strain or injury, permitting safe lifting by a single operative, and also provides compliance with HSE Manual Handling Operations Regulations.

Self-engaging safety stays must also be provided to prevent injury from the lid falling shut unexpectedly. Locking mechanisms on flush installations must be recessed into the lid to eliminate the risk of a trip to personnel traversing the cover.

Fall protection

Where dry-well chamber depth poses a risk of injury from a fall, integral protection must be included, typically in the form of grids and guards. Fall protection and assisted handling are obligatory on wet well covers, as is odour control.

Fall protection grids must be hinged and should be adapted to suit the function of the chamber. Access for float inspection or placement of tanker crew hoses must be provided without the need to open the safety grid.

These safety features also meet CDM site security responsibilities, including their duty of care to prevent injury to vandals and minors – unauthorised users. Designers must also address duty of care for environmental impact under CDM, such as acts of vandalism or extortion to contaminate water resources. This will already be answered in the design of an LPCB-approved high-security cover.

Sustainable equipment

Finally, no security equipment is fit for purpose without assessment of system durability. In this era of sustainable design and whole-life costing, specifiers should ask manufacturers to provide dependable data on the expected service life for equipment that account for local environmental factors including atmospheric corrosivity.

Technocover has a range of post-galvanised protective systems – Duragalv 70, 100 and 140 – tailoring longevity to design life needs while accounting for the severity of local weathering factors.

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