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Southern Water projects awarded share of £40m Innovation Fund 

Our work to innovate as part of our wider goal of driving down use of storm overflows has been recognised with two projects being awarded a share of Ofwat’s Innovation Fund

Southern Water’s work to innovate as part of its wider goal of driving down use of storm overflows Southern has been recognised with two projects being awarded a share of Ofwat’s Innovation Fund.

The schemes were awarded funding from Ofwat in its fourth Water Breakthrough Challenge, that looks for solutions with the potential to deliver wide-scale transformational change benefiting customers, society, and the environment.  

The first project to benefit will receive £1.58m and will help us develop a platform for water quality monitoring that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyse and calibrate data from monitors. If proven, the platform will support our efforts in expanding water quality monitoring of waterbodies across our region. These will help us to improve our ability to learn more about water quality in our region, to help us in our work creating healthier rivers and seas. 

The project will address the challenges that water quality monitors have, as due to the environment they are in, maintenance and calibration is challenging and expensive. Using AI and machine-learning could be a gamechanger, that if successful, will make it much easier to deploy more monitors, whilst improving the accuracy of information that they provide.  

The second project will benefit from £1m and will help us develop a unique platform to help us make informed decisions about where to put sustainable urban drainage solutions (SuDs) 

SuDS are a holistic approach to managing rainfall that mimic natural drainage processes - helping to reduce flooding, watercourse erosion and pollution risks caused by development. They can also make our urban areas more climate resilient 

What will the tool do? 

The tool, which our modelling team and partners at HR Wallingford, are developing will help us to understand the benefits of placing SuDs in more areas of our network. SuDS-iQ will enable users to understand what SuDS are, how they work, and the benefits they provide within a visual, online environment.  

SuDS-IQ will provide a platform for collaboration in the wider water industry, through collaboration with partners at Yorkshire Water, Thames Water and Anglian Water. The tool will also be co-developed with SuDS users in other sectors, including local authorities and developers.  

Southern Water Innovation Programme Manager, Rory Miles, said: 

“Innovation is key for activities across Southern Water, from developing new solutions to help us tackle big challenges: from water efficiency to protecting our environment. We need to think creatively and collaborate in and out of the water sector to address these very complex challenges.” 

“Both of these projects will help us in our work creating healthier rivers and seas, and will enable us to implement more solutions across our region – through finding the best places to place SUDS, and to support an expansion of our water quality monitoring.” 

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.”  

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