Water Hub partners and SMEs working to resolve major problems from damaged sewer networks.

Water Hub partners and SMEs working to resolve major problems from damaged sewer networks which increase the risk of flooding and pollution.

Dr Flora Hetherington has been working with Northumbrian Water, civil engineering firm Esh Stantec, SME Intelligent Gels, Durham University Botanic Gardens and Department of Biosciences, to produce a permanent outreach space in the Botanic Gardens. This area showcases the problem of tree roots growing into sewage pipes leading to blockages and breakages. Together Northumbrian Water, Intelligent Gels and Durham University are working on a solution to resist further tree root intrusion. The Water Hub helped bring the partners together to access project funding.

Problems arise when tree roots work their way into sewer pipes, thrive off the water and nutrients, causing hundreds of blocked pipes every year and costing water companies thousands of pounds to repair.

The roots can block the pipes on their own, or sometimes, they can even form a living mesh that traps other flushed items, causing even bigger blockages and leading to sewer flooding and pollution.

Blockages such as these, or those caused by people flushing items such as wipes or sanitary products down the toilet not only create work for the water company, they also cause flooding in people′s homes.

The three organisations have been working together to create a clever new gel which uses a more eco-friendly copper formulation to form a protective barrier and anti-root invasion solution. It would be applied to the inside of existing sewer pipes and coated on new pipes laid in the future, to stop tree roots growing any further without killing the tree.

Durham University′s Botanic Garden has set aside an area for the project to help showcase the idea.


Dr Flora Hetherington at Durham University's Botanic Garden demonstration site.

Water Dragon's Heat 2019

For the second year running, we are delighted to announce our up and coming Water Dragons Heat at Durham University, on Wednesday 9th October at Durham University.

Future Water Association's 'Water Dragons' provides a platform for organisations to showcase their products, services or processes with a view to providing innovative solutions to the challenges faced in the water industry. The pitches are judged by a panel consisting of water sector specialists.



Our People’s Choice winner from 2018, Rain Drop Harvest, went on to win the People’s Choice winner at the Water Dragon’s Final in March 2019.

Rain Drop Harvest make gravity fed rainwater harvesting systems for homes and wowed the audiences with how simple a solution this was, saving up to 30% water usage in new homes.

Lynn McCallum, inventor of Rain Drop Harvest said “The Water Dragon's has been an invaluable experience"


See more of what we got up to last year here!

This year we are looking for innovative ideas, products and services for the water and environment sector. We will consider all applications for shortlisting; however, we have a particular interest in products and services that will feed into upcoming work streams at the Future Water Association and The Water Hub.

Systems thinking in asset and catchment management

In November, the Future Water Association will be bringing new thinking from asset management, catchment management and adoption of systems thinking to the future of network management. The Association wants to see ideas that can be adapted to support pipeline system maintenance.

Water related services for agriculture

From November, The Water Hub will be sourcing products and services that provide water related services for agriculture in a joint project with Natural England. The Water Hub wants to see ideas that could service the agriculture sector.

Additional Training and Insight

We will be holding a Webinar in late September (date TBC) for the successful applicants. This will insight into what the Future Water Association and The Water Hub are looking for in a pitch and give an opportunity for questions.


Deadline: The deadline for applications is Friday 30th August 2019.
Notification: Applicants will be notified of the outcome in the first week of Sept.
Training: A webinar will be held in late September (date TBC)
Water Dragons: Wednesday 9th October 2019.

For more information, please read our Water Dragon's Information Pack:

TWH_ Water Dragons 2019_Info Pack

To apply to pitch, download the application form:

TWH_Water Dragons 2019_Application form

If you're an SME, you will also need to complete and return an SME eligibility form:

FORM 03 SME Eligibilty Form


Water Hubber Wins 'Emerging Talent' Award!

One of The Water Hub’s Innovation Managers, Dr Sarah Cotterill, was presented with the 2019 ‘Emerging Talent’ Award by Future Water Association’s CEO, Paul Horton.

Prof. Louise Bracken, Scientific Director of The Water Hub nominated Sarah for the award:

‘Sarah joined The Water Hub in early 2018 and her drive to improve the environment through better use and reuse of water has helped grow The Water Hub and our network of businesses and partners. Sarah has excelled in bringing new ideas and new thinking to the work of The Water Hub, developing strategic opportunities for businesses to develop new products and extend sales of existing products, and delivering a suite of high quality activities and events’.

Paul Horton explained the importance of the awards at FWA’s awards lunch in April:

“People and innovation are the driving force behind today’s water industry and these awards have been established to celebrate the water sector; the successes, the achievements, the technology and the people that all help deliver a valuable resource we sometimes take for granted."

The Emerging Talent Award, sponsored by Arup, recognises young people, starting out in the sector who have brought something new and different to their organisation.

On receiving the award, Sarah said:

‘I’m honoured to have received this lovely award from an organisation I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with. It’s a brilliant recognition of what The Water Hub is seeking to achieve, and I’m grateful for the support and opportunities I’ve had early on in my career.’

To find out more about The Water Hub team and what we do, click here.