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Water pipeline test facilities research: findings report – final report


This report presents the findings of a review of the requirements and demand for additional pipeline test facilities in Scotland. It assesses the current situation and identifies gaps between what currently exists and is planned for, and whether this meets the needs of the Scottish water industry. In particular, it: assesses the demand for pipeline test facilities and specific requirements of companies (pressure, flow rates, pipe material etc.); assesses the demand for companies to train their staff on ‘live’ pipelines and their specific requirements; reviews existing pipeline test and training facilities (including those owned by private companies) in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK; considers the potential to upgrade existing Scottish Water Horizons (SWH) pipeline test facilities; identifies whether there are any SWH redundant assets suitable for upgrade to test facilities; and considers the demands and test facilities outside water, wastewater and hydro pipelines, and other sectors where there is a potential to combine and share facilities such as oil and gas, district heating and chemicals.


The review consisted of research and interviews with Scottish Water, their suppliers, existing facility providers, research institutes and universities. All the information gathered was then analysed to determine where the gaps were, between what is currently available, where the facility is located and what the demand is for their services. A matrix approach was used to determine the gaps and to identify opportunities.


The review found that facilities for the training of Scottish Water staff and contractor’s personnel on network operations and maintenance meet most needs of the industry. There was, however, some scope for provision of secondary facilities (e.g. by a mobile pipe rig and/or redundant Scottish Water assets) for training at more remote locations away from Scotland’s central belt. It also found that while multiple facilities exist in Scotland and further afield for development and testing of new products and services, these did not always meet suppliers’ needs from an availability and capability perspective. Suitable facilities for demonstration of new technologies and techniques were found to be limited and not always accessible in Scotland, and there was, at the time of research, no suitable facilities in Scotland or the UK which accurately replicate the conditions encountered in the real world that are required for validation of certain types of technologies (e.g. condition assessment tools, mains cleaning tools). Facilities at Scottish universities and research institutes for fundamental research into water supply networks were found to be limited. However, the review notes that several research facilities in England are being developed which should allow for collaborative research that can meet the Scottish water industry’s needs. Finally, the report found that there was insufficient demand for Scottish Water to build a dedicated pipeline testing facility without support from other organisations.


The report makes a number of recommendations to address the gaps between what currently exists and what is planned for. These are: develop, or improve, existing databases of existing test facilities in Scotland, with details of capabilities and disseminate this information via a suitable platform, such as UK Water Partnership’s or CREW’s interactive websites; assess the feedback from Water UK’s Water Distribution Network group on the need for water industry performance standards for condition assessment tools and then determine the demand for a facility for the testing and validation of these tools; and facilitate further discussions between Heriot Watt, Sacro Stopper and McCrae Training to develop the opportunity, with the potential for the James Hutton Institute to be also involved in some capacity. It suggests that consideration should be given to the development of a register of assets, especially abandoned assets and assets in more remote locations, that could be used for training of Scottish Water contractors, and that consideration should also be given to assessing in more detail the demand for a mobile training facility to demonstrate the impact of valve operation on pressure transients and water quality, similar to that operated by Yorkshire Water.

Author Isle Utilities
Published Year 2019
Report Type Research
  • Labour Market and Skills
    Skills Development