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New sewer monitoring technology could spell the end of fatbergs

Sydney Water is trialling a ‘nervous system’ for sewers that will deliver real-time information about the health of its network.

The technology was developed by UK company Nuron and uses in-pipe fibre sensing like that employed in the oil and gas industries.

This extends throughout the sewer system and measures flow, depth, temperature and structural integrity every 5 metres along the sewer pipe.

It will help Sydney Water remotely identify issues such as burst pipes and blockages before they develop into serious incidents. This could spell the end of ‘fatbergs’, as the system can detect a buildup of solids, pinpointing where cleaning and maintenance needs to be carried out.

Sydney Water Head of Service Planning and Asset Strategy Paul Higham said the utility is trialling the technology as it could provide a better way to manage its wastewater assets.

“This project is an opportunity for Sydney Water to assess real-time sewer data to improve our services,” he said.

“Conducting a trial with Nuron and their collaborative partners could help us to see better ways to monitor and manage the performance of our wastewater systems.”

The technology takes up less than 1% of space in a sewer pipe and is installed robotically, which means even smaller pipes can be retrofitted.

Nuron Managing Director Claire Fenwick said the partnership with Sydney Water was a good fit, as both companies are passionate about ensuring resilient and sustainable wastewater infrastructure.

“This is an exciting relationship as we share a vision for transforming sewer network operations, enabling significant social and environmental benefits,” she said.

The Sydney Water trial comes after the technology was implemented for the first time by Northumbrian Water in the north east of England in July.