Water firm to use AI to improve river quality

The River Wear from Durham
An IT firm will work with Northumbrian Water after funding was granted [Getty Images]

A water company has been given funding to improve the quality of rivers with the help of AI.

Northumbrian Water has been awarded funding from water regulator Ofwat to work with IT firm Cognizant to track river health trends and pollution patterns.

The money is part of the Ofwat Innovation Fund, which is a £200m project to grow the water sector’s capacity in England and Wales.

Northumbrian Water said reducing river pollution was one of the "biggest challenges" it faced.

Earlier this year, the water firm paid £50,000 to an environmental charity after a burst pipe polluted a small river.

The project's long-term goal is to improve the quality of drinking water, as well as the eco-systems in the rivers.

The new technology, which uses machine learning as well as artificial intelligence, will be able to track pollution and river health, as well as agriculture, road run-offs and storm overflows.

"Our long-term vision is to use data insights to address one of the biggest challenges we face - reducing river pollution," Nigel Watson, chief information officer at Northumbrian Water, said.

"In looking to work with Cognizant Ocean, we aim to improve our insights into river health, helping us optimize our investments and form targeted partnerships to better work together to improve the quality of UK rivers."

Cognizant Ocean's global head Stig Martin Fiskå said the project was designed to serve "as a groundwork for future explorations, paving the way for the development of sophisticated and nuanced representations of river health and water quality".

He added: "Our anticipated collaboration with Northumbrian Water, in particular, aims to help improve the quality and biodiversity of the rivers in the North East of England and lay a strong foundation for other water systems organizations to leverage our expertise for the same."

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