NEW technology is being used to help reduce pollution risks across Keighley and the rest of the region.

The use of artificial intelligence by Yorkshire Water is being expanded to predict blockages within the sewer network.

Following a successful pilot project, the initiative is being rolled out to more than 2,000 combined sewer overflows.

Sensors feed water level data into an operating system which analyses in real time the performance of the network, and predicts problems like blockages before they happen – enabling Yorkshire Water to investigate and take preventative action.

The system has been co-created by Yorkshire Water, Siemens and the University of Sheffield.

Studies by the university found that up to two weeks’ notice of problems within the sewer network could be obtained and nine out of ten potential issues were identified ­– which is three times more successful than existing pollution prediction processes. And the number of false alerts was halved.

Heather Sheffield, integrated planning and central control manager for Yorkshire Water, said: "Much of our network is combined, taking both waste from toilets and sinks in homes and surface water from rainfall.

"Periods of prolonged or intense rainfall can significantly increase the flows in our network and there is a risk of sewage flooding in homes and the environment, and the potential for damage at wastewater treatment works.

"This challenge is compounded by population growth, climate change and consumer behaviour – such putting non-flushable items like wipes into sewers.

"Reducing intermittent discharges from combined sewer overflows is a key priority for us, and our partnership with Siemens illustrates our commitment to investing in cutting-edge technology to reduce pollution incidents.

"Our customers expect us to use the latest technologies. This solution, developed in partnership with Siemens and the University of Sheffield, will change our visibility of the sewer network and improve how we identify and tackle blockages.

"Rolling out the solution to 2,000 assets across the region will have a significant role in reducing pollution incidents, as well as increasing our efficiency and providing improved value to customers."

The technology recently won the Data Analytics, Cloud and AI Project of the Year accolade at the Water Industry Awards.

Steve Hanslow, head of water for Siemens Digital Industries UK, said: "Keeping sewers free from blockages and reducing river pollution is a wide-ranging and complex issue, and we are happy to help the water industry meet the technological challenge."