Freeze_Thaw frozen water pipes

Freeze-Thaw™ monitoring and early alerting service

The onus is on companies to manage severe weather incidents and make sure customers are protected. Customers expect water companies to prepare for and manage severe weather incidents to ensure that they experience minimal interruption to their service - Ofwat

The 2018 ‘freeze-thaw’ caused disturbance to businesses and people’s lives

In 2018 combined effect of the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma caused a deep ‘freeze-thaw’ event. Many water pipes and mains froze, raptured and subsequently thawed leading to extensive leakage. Some water companies saw an increase in water demand as high as 85% above normal levels. This led to shortages in the water supply. Thousands of households and businesses were flooded and left without running water. 

Why choose Freeze-Thaw™ service?

In response to the 2018 event, our scientists have developed a Freeze-Thaw™ monitoring and early alerting service. This service can help you: 

  • Gain time to prepare and minimise impact of ‘freeze-thaw’ on your customers with an early, up to 14 days Freeze-Thaw™ alert system. 

  • Quickly understand the severity and impact of an incoming ‘freeze-thaw’ with the Red-Amber-Green alerts. 

  • Free up valuable time to focus on other tasks with constant monitoring and thresholds triggered alerts. 

  • Show customer care and due diligence through pro-active and efficient management of ‘freeze-thaw’ events.  

How does Freeze-Thaw™ service work? 

Gain time to prepare

We’ve designed the service to alert you of pipe-freezing events up to 14 days in advance, and when you may expect a thaw followed by a rise in water demand. The early alert gives you valuable time to prepare for such an event and take specific measures to respond to potential impacts on your customers.

Quickly understand the severity and impact

The service is based on our Freeze-Thaw Index (FTI) which considers three factors: air temperature, wind and time.

When the hourly, ambient air temperature is below zero and the hourly wind speed is high, this will result in a more negative FTI. The number of hours that the hourly ambient air temperature is below zero will add to the severity of the event.

The more negative the FTI, the greater the likelihood of supply pipes freezing and rupturing, and the greater the water losses will be as the thaw sets in. A rapid thaw will also add to the demand spike by concentrating the water losses into a shorter period.

The Freeze-Thaw™ service will alert you to the start (freeze), severity (Red, Amber, Green) and end (thaw) of a pipe freezing event. Our system delivers Red, Amber or Green alerts depending on the FT index and thresholds derived from analysing demand data or from analogues if data are not available.

Green - no ‘freeze-thaw’ issues or problems anticipated

Amber - ‘freeze-thaw’ anticipated with water demand increase within normal variability

Red - ‘freeze-thaw’ anticipated with water demand increase above normal levels 

Slight freeze events, such as overnight frosts would be categorised as Green since the ambient air temperature would have dipped below zero for only a few hours. Moderate to severe ‘freeze-thaw’ events on the other hand, such as the ‘Beast from the East’, would be categorised as either Amber or Red given the longer duration and greater intensity of the freeze event and subsequent thaw.

Constant monitoring and thresholds triggered alerts  

Updated daily, running in the background from November to March, Freeze-Thaw™ service combines reliable science with convenient continuous monitoring. Every time monitored parameters reach set thresholds it triggers an alert, and you will receive an email with either Red or Amber notice.

Why should you consider adding Freeze-Thaw™ to your alerts suite?

Losing water supply can cause significant disruption to businesses and people’s lives. Effectively managing future ‘freeze-thaw’ incidents gives you the opportunity to positively impact consumers’ and stakeholders’ perceptions of your company. Having the right information ahead of time will enable you to be more in control and not just reactive. It may help you:

  • Increase water production in advance of the incident.
  • Ease inconvenience caused by the event by proactively communicating with your customers and stakeholders.
  • Be ready with alternative supplies for those without water.
  • Prepare a plan to help the most vulnerable.

By informing your customers early and guiding them on the preventative actions they can take, you could prevent some pipe bursts and reduce the severity of leakage.

The Freeze-Thaw™ alerting service is a tool that helps you effectively prepare for ‘freeze-thaw’ events and ensure that there is minimal impact to your customers. Subscribing to this service helps to demonstrate due diligence to regulators and customers, in that you are using the best possible intelligence about impending events.

How do ‘freeze-thaw’ events affect the water sector?

The graph illustrates the relationship between temperature (horizontal axis) and the demand for potable water (vertical axis). In cold weather, the demand increases due to burst pipes and leakage. This cold weather demand is exacerbated by several ‘freeze-thaw’ events (upper left corner). When such events occur, they drive a significant increase in demand and put enormous strain on the system.

 

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Call us

We are available 24/7.

0370 900 0100
Email us

Fill out this short form and we'll get back to you.

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