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Bristol Water has called upon Panton McLeod to deploy an underwater robot to help keep drinking-water supplies at their purest levels across Weston-super-Mare.

Bristol Water brought in the technology to ensure that its customers in Weston-super-Mare continue to receive pure supplies at the tap, following the discovery of a leak at a historic water storage facility in the area.

Water quality engineering company Panton McLeod deployed its ROV unit to inspect a Victorian service reservoir – a huge underground water storage tank – in order to locate the source of the leak.

The ROV – a remotely operated robot fitted with lights and cameras – is used exclusively by Panton McLeod and has previously been utilised to undertake inspection work for various UK water companies.

The technology enables the company to carry out inspections while facilities are still online, meaning that there is no need to drain the structures and that customers do not experience any disruption to their water supplies.

During the Weston-super-Mare project, however, Bristol Water took the reservoir out of service as an extra precaution, in order to further protect water supplies in the area.

Thanks to Panton McLeod’s equipment, cracks in the walls of the tank have been discovered as the likely sources of the leak and Bristol Water is now identifying the best method to repair the facility.

Paul Henderson, operations director at Panton McLeod, said: ‘Before we began using the ROV unit, the only way water facility inspections could be carried out was by completely draining the facility and having engineers physically going into the tanks to inspect them.

‘Our technology means we can carry out a thorough inspection while ensuring the supply through the reservoir is totally unaffected.

‘We remotely control the ROV unit and it is able to inspect the tank quickly and safely while it is still online, meaning that there is no disruption to supplies.

‘Bristol Water contacted us to see if we could help locate the source of a leak that was undetectable using traditional methods.

‘It took the reservoir out of supply as an additional precaution but kept the facility full of water so that we could identify any problems,’ he added.

The inspection follows a successful trial of the technology carried out at the Timsbury Reservoir last year, which allowed Bristol Water to check that the equipment posed no risks to water quality standards.

The ROV unit is an inspection robot manoeuvred like a submarine through the water in a service reservoir.

It is able to inspect the walls of the tank, joints and the roof soffit for damage or leakage.

The company also uses another machine called the VR600 – a large-tracked robot that is manoeuvred along the floor of a service reservoir and that removes any sediment or impurities in the water.

It can also be used to inspect the condition of the water tanks, including checking the walls and pipework for corrosion or damage.

Both machines are remotely operated from the surface and fitted with cameras and lighting equipment, allowing staff controlling the sub to assess the interior of the tanks.

They are also used solely within clean potable water environments and meticulously cleaned and disinfected prior to every use to ensure that they can be safely used in the public water supply.

Panton McLeod conducts rigorous tests before and after each inspection.

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