Case Study

Sewer Pollution Early-Warning Technology in the UK

Anglian Water is the first utility to adopt new cloud-based technology to detect rising main sewer bursts.


Related Topics

Environmental Monitoring

UK water companies are working on pollution reduction strategies with a sense of urgency, in line with Environment Agency and Ofwat expectations of more action. In a world-first, Anglian Water is implementing early-warning system BurstDetect, as part of its drive to eliminate serious pollution events in its region by 2025.


Rising main sewers are high risk, critical assets but with many ageing and becoming more vulnerable to bursts, historic programmes of proactive maintenance may no longer be enough to keep up with the rate of deterioration.

Often situated in remote, hard-to-reach locations, including beneath rivers, railways and roads, and in environmentally sensitive areas, a rising main burst can have a catastrophic ecological impact. Technical and logistical monitoring limitations can mean utilities are often alerted to a burst hours or even days into the event – too late to take action that would prevent a pollution incident and serious penalties.


BurstDetect uses unique algorithms to detect bursts using existing data from wastewater pumping stations. The technology can be applied to nearly all pumping stations – even those with basic pump status monitoring – and requires no additional hardware.

Through a dashboard, the system provides an overview of pumping system status, historical events and site locations. If data suggests a possible burst or blockage, an alert is sent to control rooms often within a few hours of occurrence. This allows operators to make informed decisions and swiftly allocate resources to prevent occurrence of a pollution event.


Both during and following the development of BurstDetect, Ovarro undertook trials using real-world data, provided blind by a number of UK water companies. The results demonstrated that the product is able to detect a large proportion of bursts.

In some cases, bursts were detected days or even weeks in advance of current methods. Bursts were also detected on pumping stations where only pump status is being monitored, making the product immediately applicable to almost all rising mains, without the need for capital investment.

We’ve committed to eliminating serious pollutions by 2025 and to reducing the number of less significant incidents by at least 45%…BurstDetect enables us to respond rapidly if a rising main burst occurs and take proactive action to prevent pollution and protect the environment.

– Claire Moore, Head of Water Recycling Networks, Anglian Water
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