End-to-End Discolouration Management

WRc offers comprehensive discolouration management services, covering the entire process from catchment management to consumer messaging.

The need for end-to-end discolouration management

Most of the water quality-related contacts received by UK water companies from consumers are concerned with aesthetic issues. Of these, the most frequently reported is brown-black-orange (b/b/o) discolouration.

Discoloured water is a complex issue. It can occur for several reasons, some of which are interrelated. Problems are commonly caused by disturbance of sediments or material within the water mains. For discolouration to occur there needs a to be a source of material which accumulates in a network and is then mobilised.

WRc offers many services that can identify and manage causes of discolouration. By working across all parts of the water network, WRc provides a comprehensive solution to discolouration issues.

      Source-to-tap experience

      We have practical experience and expertise in all aspects of water quality

      Data-driven approach

      We use data analysis and to identify root causes and provide actionable insights

      Technological solutions

      We develop innovative technology to identify issues within all areas of the water network

      Our Discolouration Management Services


      Using our engineering and source-to-tap water quality knowledge, practical experience, and insights gleaned from data analysis, we have defined key network and water quality factors that can influence the potential for discoloured water reaching the consumer. The application of machine learning techniques has enabled the efficient detection of complex interactions between factors. Of particular interest are those factors that can be influenced by the activities of the water company, providing actionable insights using readily available data.

      Catchment Management

      WRc offers two products to support the development of source and catchment management strategies from a water quality perspective: SIMPOL ICM is WRc’s dynamic weather-driven integrated catchment modelling software, providing modular water quality calculations from source to sea. The PyWR-WQ module, originally developed for water resource management from a quantity perspective, is being adapted to model water quality alongside water quantity and take proper account of changes to Deployable Output.

      Water Treatment

      We provide expert and troubleshooting advice for process optimisation. For example, we designed and operated a matrix of pilot scale tests for United Utilities, to find the optimal and critical conditions for manganese removal in a surface water. We have practical experience of coagulation process control systems and can offer training for operator-based coagulation dose assessments (‘jar tests’). We have also contributed to treatability studies, and research into the impact of climate change on raw and treated water quality.

      Trunk Mains

      Trunk mains pose a unique challenge for managing discolouration due to their size and corrosion of ferrous assets. A robust risk and contingency program is also required for all planned works to avoid inducing a major discolouration event which could impact many consumers. We use our hydraulic modelling expertise and PODDS tools to identify trunk main lengths at risk of causing discolouration. The material is then removed before mobilisation can occur using trunk main conditioning.

      Distribution Networks

      Distribution networks with ageing ferrous pipe materials provide ample corrosion product to increase the risk of consumers receiving discoloured water at their taps. Unexpected hydraulic events can change the dynamic of the network and increase the likelihood that consumers will experience discoloured water. WRc offers bespoke analytics solutions deploying a mix of hydraulic, CFD, and machine learning modelling to identify DMAs at risk from discolouration and diagnose likely root cause.

      Customer Engagement

      Any implementation of a discolouration reduction strategy must involve keeping the consumer informed. During an event early consumer engagement is vital. The WANDa application provides the ability to identify the customers at risk during a network event, with outputs allowing effective and proactive tailored warning messages for customers likely to have unavoidable property interruption (UPI), avoidable property interruption (API), intermittent supply, and those at risk from discolouration.

      Find out more

      To learn more about our discolouration management capabilities, download our discolouration capability document below

      Download now

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        Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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