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Future of water treatment arrives in Plymouth

image depicting Senior Process Scientist / Engineer Dave Metcalfe in the research facility at Crownhill
Senior Process Scientist / Engineer Dave Metcalfe in the research facility at Crownhill
South West Water has installed a cutting-edge water treatment research facility at its Crownhill site in Plymouth which is poised to revolutionise tap water production in the UK.

As part of its long-term vision, South West Water plans to replace the water treatment works at Crownhill with a more efficient new works north of the city during the next five-year investment period (2015-20).

The first step on this important journey has been taken with the delivery of the small-scale research facility, manufactured by PWN Technologies in the Netherlands, at Crownhill.

The facility, which is capable of processing 150,000 litres of water a day, uses suspended ion exchange and ceramic microfiltration technology, which represents a move away from current chemical and energy-intensive treatment processes. It is the first time that this technology has been used in the UK.

Over the next 18 months, a dedicated team will be testing the process with a variety of raw water sources including water from local rivers and reservoirs. This will enable the team, in partnership with PWN Technologies, to fine-tune the process and help inform the design of the new £50 million treatment works. 

Chris Rockey, South West Water's Science and Water Quality Manager, said: "Our aim is to continue to provide good, safe drinking water that has the trust of our customers, while minimising the cost of water treatment and our impact on the environment.

"The processes required to produce high-quality drinking water have traditionally been both energy and chemical-intensive and produce a lot of waste. Advances in drinking water technology and new approaches to the management of raw water supplies are now offering cheaper and sustainable alternatives to how drinking water is produced.

"Crownhill was built in the 1950s and it costs more every year to maintain it. This long-term investment will keep bills down in the future as well as benefiting the environment.  The project is globally significant and shows that the South West can be both innovative and forward thinking in meeting future challenges."

The overall investment in the new works is expected to be in the region of £50 million. When the new works is operational, planned for 2018, Crownhill will be closed down.

The move from the current site will release a 40-acre site in the heart of Plymouth with potential for development. This could be a catalyst for the regeneration of this area of the city.

Learn more by watching this video. Crownhill WTW pilot scheme

Notes to editors

  • The water produced by the research facility is not going into the public water supply
  • It is proposed that the new works will be built on an existing South West Water operational site at Roborough
  • South West Water provides high quality water and sewerage services to over 1.6 million people across Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset and Dorset
  • South West Water operates 29 water treatment works and maintains 15,101km of water mains
  • We supply our customers with around 349 mega litres (79 million gallons) of drinking water every day
  • In 2014 South West Water will submit its business plan for the years ahead to the UK water industry regulator Ofwat. We are inviting customers to find out more and tell us what they think our priorities should be at www.southwestwater.co.uk/waterfuture

Published: 18 June 2013

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