South West Water

South West Water provides reliable, efficient and high quality drinking water and waste water services in the United Kingdom. South West Water is a partner in emergency response in their area and invested in flood defense techniques to protect their assets. They have a track record of pioneering new technologies and approaches in the UK. Mike Copperwhite, DWS Team Manager, and Myles Key, Central Support Manager, give some background information on South West Water’s goals for the future and one of their flood protection barrier systems, the Beaver Barrier System.  

Upstream Thinking 

Water is precious. One of the main objectives of South West Water is to ensure that there is enough safe water available for the generations to come. They aim to maintain their assets reliably and look after the environment. As South West Water is the only supplier of drinking water in their region there are strict regulations in place. In order to protect the water, South West Water has started the program Upstream Thinking. This entails managing the water; protecting the raw water for the future in cooperation with local partners. 
See the video below for more information. 

Beaver Barrier System

The engagement of South West Water in Polder2C’s concerns the subject of Emergency Response, specifically the mobile barriers against flooding. South West Water introduces an Emergency Flood Protection system that they use, the Geoline Beaver Barrier System. The purpose of this system is to protect their sites and water treatment assets from fluvial flooding where water courses have been identified that are located in close proximity to water treatment assets. 

The equipment is stored at these high risk sites. In order to be able to use the barrier system at all times in case of an emergency, South West Water put some actions into place: 

  • The inventory is regularly checked and refreshed if needed
  • A work Instruction has been created to assist with emergency deployment
  • Regular exercises are planned to ensure efficient deployment

How does it work?

The beaver barrier system is a system of coated PVC laminate inflatable sections of 5, 10, 15 or 20 meters. In order to set up the system, the flat packed sections are first unrolled and inflated with air for initial placement. Then the sections are connected with straps in order to create a continuous barrier system. Once the sections are in the desired place, the barriers are filled with water and when half full the air is released. The barriers can protect up to a height of approximately 100 cm. A secondary tube placed on top increases the protection height with an additional 50 cm; 150 cm in total. The actual weight of the water inside of the sections holds the barriers in place and protects against the water acting against the system.

Copyright: Geoline 


The evaluation of the beaver system shows some great advantages:

  • It is quick to deploy - for example: a 320-metre twin tube with a 50 cm dam height was set up by 8 people in 90 minutes. 
  • The process isn’t complex, no experts needed
  • Ancillary equipment needed is off the shelf, it is easy to procure
  • It is easy to deploy on uneven terrain
  • It is easy and compact to store
  • The beaver system is reusable

The only uncertainty is how robust the material is against sharp objects. However, as it is constructed of coated PVC laminate it is expected to be resilient. South West Water plans to do testing of the system in the future in order to gain more experience and knowledge. 

Read more

Curious to learn more about South West Water and what they do? Read the interview with Mike Copperwhite and Myles Key and their role in Polder2C’s and more.