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Thames Water wins share of £40 million in Ofwat’s latest Water Breakthrough Challenge

Thursday 16th May 2024 07:00

Two engineers assessing leaks

Thames Water engineers assessing leaks

  • Ofwat’s Innovation Fund today announces 17 winners from the fourth Water Breakthrough Challenge, a £40 million competition that invited solutions with the potential to deliver wide-scale, transformational change benefitting customers, society and the environment.  
  • The winners include Thames Water’s innovative concept of ‘No dig leak repair’ utilising advanced technologies like robotics to fix leaks with minimal disruption. 
  • In total, Thames Water projects received almost half (£16.9m) of the total funding that is available. 

An innovative solution by Thames Water that would fix leaks without the need to dig trenches or disrupt residents and road users is one of the winners of a £40 million competition from Ofwat, the economic water regulator.  

The ‘No Dig Leak Repair’ project, led by Thames Water, will use the funding to examine how technologies like robotics and trenchless repair methods could help fix leaks in the future without the need to dig trenches and all the associated disruption this causes. 

Other Thames Water projects to win funding include a bid to explore the potential of converting sludge into valuable products like biochar, a bid to incentivise sustainable urban drainage, and a bid to expand the use of robotic technology for inspecting and repairing rising mains. 

In total, Thames Water projects received almost half (£16.9m) of the total funding that is available. 

Nevil Muncaster, Engineering and Asset Director, from Thames Water said:  "We are constantly striving to evolve our business, and find new ways to do things better for the benefit of our customers and the environment. This funding will be invaluable in helping us progress some of our most exciting and innovative ideas, ones that really could change the water industry for the better.” 

Helen Campbell, Senior Director, Ofwat said: “There are big challenges in the water industry that must be solved, some are well known and others are less so. In our fourth Water Breakthrough Challenge we called for solutions with potential to deliver wide-scale, transformational change for customers, society and the environment – and that’s exactly what today’s winners have done. From raingardens to prevent flooding to green energy from treated sewage, innovations to cut the water sector’s carbon footprint to robots that patrol the pipe network, the winners are all helping shape a more sustainable and efficient water sector.”  

The Water Breakthrough Challenge is part of a series of competitions from Ofwat, run by Challenge Works with Arup and Isle Utilities, designed to drive innovation and collaboration in the sector to benefit individuals, society and the environment.  

It supports initiatives that help to tackle the biggest challenges facing the water sector, such as achieving net zero, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing leakage, as well as delivering value to society.  

For more information, visit the Water Breakthrough Challenge website.