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Drainage work improves storm resilience in Cumbria

Sapphire Utility Solutions has been awarded a Framework Contract by Cumbria County Council for the clearing, inspection and mapping of drains and gullies. “One of the main reasons for Sapphire winning this contract was the successful completion of a project in 2016 to conduct similar work on 12,000 gullies in the areas affected by the flooding that followed Storm Desmond,” comments David Sheard from Cumbria County Council. “Sapphire was contracted for a 12 week period and we were delighted that the work was completed within budget and a week early.”

Following the unprecedented flooding that occurred in Cumbria on 5th and 6th December 2015, the Flood Investigation Report tasked Cumbria County Council, United Utilities and Carlisle City Council with an action to ‘review and investigate drainage and sewage systems for which they are responsible to better understand where improvements are required.’ This led to Sapphire’s work in the flood affected areas, which delivered a range of positive outcomes. “For example,” David says: “the mapping work undertaken by Sapphire revealed an extra 10% of drainage assets that were not previously documented.

“This project was featured on two different TV news programmes and demonstrated to local residents that the Council is taking a pro-active approach to flood protection.

“As a result of Sapphire’s work, these critical drains are now clear and the risk profile of the drainage infrastructure has been documented to provide a prioritisation matrix for remedial work, which makes a significant contribution to the future flooding resilience of these areas.”

Sapphire Utility Solutions Managing Director Colin Kelly says he is delighted with the Framework Contract award. “It is very pleasing to learn that our work in 2016 was appreciated by Cumbria Council. It was a challenging project requiring the complete jetting, cleansing and mapping of gully hotspots spread across the county over a relatively short timeframe, with gully access sometimes hindered in busy town centre roads lined with parked cars. However, the success of this project is due in no small part to the professionalism and diligence of the four 2-man crews that we deployed, and to the advanced cloud-based mapping technology that was used.”

The utilisation of smartphones and cloud-based data storage meant that CCTV survey and asset mapping work for each individual gully was quickly and simply available to the council and its contractors with detailed asset information including cover condition, gully size, silt level, silt defects, jetting/cleansing completed, and overall operational status of the gully.

As a result of the Framework Agreement Sapphire Utility Solutions will deliver a county-wide service from Preston and a number of local depots. “We are looking forward to rolling out the benefits of the initial work to other areas,” adds David Sheard. “We have been impressed with Sapphire’s innovative approach with regard to technology and asset mapping, and we hope to be the first County to benefit from Sapphire’s new environmentally friendly ‘Urban Recycler’ vehicle which saves water and has a substantially lower carbon footprint than traditional vehicles.”

Further information on Sapphire Utility Solutions is available at and visitors to Utility Week Live (NEC, 23-24 May) will be able to meet key members of the team and see the ‘Urban Recycler’ on booth A40.

As a result of the Framework Agreement Sapphire Utility Solutions will deliver a county-wide service…..


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