Contractor’s core skills lead to breakthrough for NWL

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With the key support of three key suppliers Panton McLeod, Seymour Civil Engineering and UPS Northumbrian Water have achieved a first in relation to a live service reservoir coring project. The project was completed at their Gunnerton site near Hexham during April & May and provided a new Outlet connection without the asset needing to be removed from service.

Now complete, the innovative scheme allows the asset to be operated in a more flexible manner and will protect both water quality and resilience of supply.

Whereas under pressure drilling is not new, the risk associated with its use on a live service reservoir had previously been considered too great for use within NWL. But now through the involvement of our robotic inspection and cleaning equipment, this risk can be removed.

Project Manager Stuart Tilley from NWL explained how the project was conceived, “At first I had some concerns as providing water of the highest standard is key to our role at NWL and any intervention into an asset can pose a risk, but after viewing some of the footage from previous projects I was happy to act as a champion for the technique”.

NWL appointed Seymour Civil Engineering as principal contractors on the overall scheme which included significant civil works to allow access to the usually submerged reservoir wall, and thereafter the installation of 150 metres of new 500 mm Outlet pipework. In turn local firm UPS provided the specialist equipment and knowledge to allow the wall of the reservoir to be cored and a valve installed in an under pressure state.

We provided two main functions on the project, firstly our inspection submarine provided live observations from within the asset ensuring that the drilling did not create excessive discolouration in the water, additionally our tracked robotic cleaner was stationed adjacent to the coring location and was able to remove any turbid water by pumping it out of the reservoir and waiting holding tanks. This ability to remove unwanted discoloured water being the key to the project’s acceptance.

The project has now been completed with the new Outlet becoming operational on the 6th May. All parties can be extremely proud of their input as the asset remained in supply throughout, with full water quality compliance in terms of bacteriological and turbidity.

We now hope to build on the collaborative relationship with Seymour Civil Engineering by supporting future projects for Northumbrian Water.

For more information about the scheme or any other related services please contact the team on 01896 663 330 or email

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