Northumbrian Water pipe repair scheme trialled in Sunderland could ‘save the country billions’

A national project which was trialled in Sunderland is aiming to help keep utility workers safe and save the UK economy ‘billions’.

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:55 am

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Northumbrian Water is the first company to sign a national data-sharing agreement, with the NUAR (National Underground Asset Register) project set to roll out across the country.

This will create a digital map of underground works to improve the efficiency and safety of excavations.

The water company claims the scheme will “significantly reduce the probability of dangerous and costly utility strikes – helping keep utility workers safe while they are out in the field.”

Work like this should become a lot easier if the scheme is successful.

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Previously, teams have dug holes using a map of pipes and cables, taking more time and effort with less accuracy, spelling danger to pipework and people.

In 2018, Northumbrian Water spent over £1 million repairing pipes. The estimated cost to the UK’s economy from accidental damage “underground assets” is put at £2.4 billion a year.

NUAR provides a consistent, interactive digital map of buried asset data, which will be refreshed and kept up to date, making excavations much easier. It will improve data quality between relevant organisations and help improve the industry.

Clive Surman-Wells, innovation partnerships manager at Northumbrian Water, said: “This was an idea grown from a tiny seed sown at one of our early Innovation Festivals, and to watch how it has grown is absolutely astounding.

“Being the first company to sign this agreement is a real honour, and we are incredibly thankful to our partners at the Geospatial Commission and Atkins for allowing us to be a part of this historic moment.

“By taking NUAR out into the ‘real world’, not only will it save the UK economy billions, and help to keep lives safe, but it will also help to create jobs which is an incredible benefit in itself.

“The project itself is a great example of what trust between partnering organisations can achieve.

“I can’t wait to see how NUAR continues to grow, and I’d encourage as many utilities as possible to join the movement and sign the agreement so we can move towards being a data-sharing industry for the benefit of our staff and customers.”