ECS manages EA borehole maintenance in Shropshire
The Shropshire Groundwater Scheme (SGS) has been developed to maintain the water levels in the River Severn by pumping water from surface and groundwater storage either directly into the Severn or one of its major tributaries. The contract for maintaining the pumping stations and the equipment within them has been awarded to ECS Engineering Services on a rolling 5 year contract.
The Environment Agency (EA) has a responsibility to maintain water levels within the River Severn and to balance the demands of abstractors with the ecological needs of the river. This task is accomplished by the largest groundwater regulation scheme in the UK and consists of groups of interconnected pumping stations that discharge water through a network of buried pipelines.
SGS is specifically designed for short term, intermittent pumping of between two and fifteen weeks per season, averaging two years out of every five. This operational model means that although the pumping stations are called in to action infrequently, when the call comes the station must perform reliably.
In order to achieve this constant state of readiness, the EA has employed one of its long-standing contractors, ECS Engineering Services, to carry out regular mechanical and electrical inspections and tests as well the necessary remedial work. Working to a planned schedule, the engineers visit each site in turn and compile a maintenance report that goes to build a profile for each station.
Steve Crapper, Business Development Manager at ECS, comments: “The Shropshire Groundwater Scheme comprises 45 borehole sites which contain 75 pumps and associated control equipment that require regular maintenance checks and remedial work. We work very closely with the EA providing regular updates as well as responding to call outs for faults that may occur at the live stations.”
Each maintenance team comprises one electrical and one mechanical engineer, both of whom are trained for confined space entry procedures as well as being fully qualified within their own disciplines. Safety while working is always a top priority and ECS ensures that all the necessary safety equipment is available and that training is kept up to date.
The pumps are run for 20 minutes every three months to check pumping efficiency and the proper operation of the non-return valves (NRVs). Electrical checks for insulation resistance and continuity are made every 6 months to assess the condition of the pump supply cable and motor windings. If these readings are approaching a predefined level, then the pump will be identified for lifting and any necessary remedial work.
As part of the regular inspections, the electrical engineer will also carry out a full inspection and test of the domestic circuits within the pumping station and issue a certificate which is valid for the next five years. Occasionally these tests will identify a fault that requires immediate attention and the engineers are equipped to remedy these situations. Any minor issues are recorded and scheduled for remedial action during the next visit.
Steve concludes: “Through this coordinated approach, ECS is able to deliver a comprehensive service that provides a regular maintenance programme as well as immediate operational support on site. In this way the EA is able to rely on the performance of the pumping stations and maintain the necessary water levels within the River Severn.”