Remotely controlling the flow

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Depth boat (2)

It may look like a fun summer holiday activity but there’s scientific logic behind Thames Water’s use of a remote controlled speed boat.

The boat, which is being put into action across a number of Thames Water’s reservoirs, is providing increasingly accurate depth readings allowing teams across the company’s region to calculate the build-up of sediment in water storage tanks.

Performance manager, Maggie Balls said: “One of our most important tasks is to proactively monitor the build-up of sediment in our tanks. If there’s too much, it can clog up our pipework and prevent us from putting extra water into our pipes.”

Depth boats

The boat – a collaboration between HR Wallingford and the UK’s largest water company - is fitted with echo-sounder technology - a type of sonar - which works by transmitting sound pulses into the water.

The time interval between the emission and return of a pulse is recorded and used to work out the depth of water.

It is one of a number of innovative technologies being rolled-out across the water company’s sites as it seeks to make its operations more efficient.

“There are also clear health and safety benefits too,” says Maggie. “There is no longer a need for me to send some of my team out on a boat, armed with measuring poles.”

This new innovation also allows for teams to better plan when they need to physically intervene to clear out the water holding tanks, ensuring there are no hold-ups in putting more water into the network to ensure a constant supply for customers.