Thames Water uses new technology to keep an eye on 82-year-old Reading water main

The company is using the market-leading Syrinix Trunkminder technology to keep a close eye on the 20-inch cast iron pipe, which would cause major flooding and knock out supplies for thousands of people if it cracks.

Trunkminder in Bayswater Road

Thames Water is installing new technology to search for leaks in an 82-year-old mains water pipe serving Central Reading.

An industry-leading leak monitoring kit is being put in as part of an £8 million SmartWater4Europe initiative.

The water company is able to introduce the Syrinix Trunkminder technology to keep a close eye on the elderly water main running along Tilehurst Road in West Reading, thanks to an EU-funded research project.

Reading relies heavily on the old 20-inch cast iron pipe and any big cracks could cause major flooding and knock out water supplies to thousands of homes and businesses.

Innovation programme manager Nic Clay-Michael said the Trunkminder – being used by the company for the first time outside London and Oxford – should considerably reduce the risk of a major burst main and will not cost customers a penny.

He said: “We are proud to be involved in this exciting project and it’s great we are able to share the benefits at no extra cost to our customers.

“Syrinix Trunkminder sits on the old pipe and actually listens to the water powering through the network. It gives us advanced warning if something changes, if something is not right.

“This could be a very minor leak, just three or four drips a minute, or creak, but the technology allows us to act way before any catastrophic failure and, most importantly, customer impact.”

SmartWater4Europe aims to speed up innovations and is investing in four towns – Reading, Lille in France, Leeuwarden in Holland, and a location to be confirmed in Spain.

Installation of the Tilehurst Road kit, which will cover a key 1,000 metre stretch of the 1932-built trunk main, involves digging three chambers.

Two are well under way in Brownlow Road and Downshire Square while work on the third in Tilehurst Road by the junction of Cranbury Road has already begun.

Trial results will help the company to understand the levels of technology needed to deliver better customer service in other areas in the Thames Water region and across Europe.

Most of the remaining installation of the kit will take place in the grass verge on the side of Tilehurst Road, keeping disruption to a minimum.

Mr Clay-Michael added: “We know this is a busy stretch, and so are working closely with the council to keep traffic flowing as freely as possible – while also getting a leak by Reading West bridge fixed at the same time.

“Alongside the crucial water mains replacement initiative in the town centre, this work and considerable investment is all designed to provide a better, reliable service to customers over the long term – making Reading’s infrastructure much more resilient.”