The problem of misconnections

Misconnections are a widespread problem for many water companies. They occur when water drains are wrongly connected, directing surface or foul water into the wrong sewer system.

Misconnections can lead to problems such as the flooding of sewage treatment works during heavy rain and foul water from domestic appliances flowing into rivers and streams.

As the locations of many misconnections are unknown, APEM has developed a unique and cost-effective method for mapping them. This allows water companies to find and quantify the problem in their region.

Identifying misconnections with aerial surveys

Aerial view of London docks and city airport

We use ultra-high resolution cameras fitted to specialist survey aircraft to carry out aerial photographic surveys of towns and cities. Analysis of the photographs by our expert team allows us to identify and geotag any buildings with misconnected pipework, such as foul-to-surface or surface-to-foul drains.

The surveys are extremely quick and cost-effective – a town of 100,000 homes can be captured in around two to three hours. The data from the surveys can then be used to target the misconnected homes for leaflet drops and visits by ground teams, thereby improving efficiency.

Homeowners can then be encouraged to fix the misconnected pipes, reducing pollution to local streams and coasts.

  • Misconnected drains on domestic properties
  • Misconnected drains on domestic properties
  • Misconnected drains on domestic properties

Example – an English coastal town

  • Coastal water pollution continued despite upgrades to water company assets.
  • About 95 per cent of homes are on separated sewer network.
  • 100,000 properties were surveyed and more than 16,000 images collected.
  • 6,000 misconnections were identified and mapped across the survey area.
  • The survey cost less than 50p per household.

Air Operator Certificate and PART-SPO

Our Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and PART-SPO registration demonstrate our commitment to operating at the highest standards of health and safety. Together they provide our clients with complete flexibility in carrying expert technicians and task specialists on board our aircraft during surveys.

We operate under our own AOC, fully authorised and audited by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to the same rigorous standards required of major airlines.

We are also the first company to successfully register to operate under the new PART-SPO regulations. PART-SPO is a major update to the way that aerial surveys are regulated, signalling both a significant tightening of requirements and a new approach by the CAA.

It covers special operations from aerial photography to aerobatics, parachuting, cloud seeding and animal herding. APEM is registered for aerial photography, surveying and calibration.

If you have any queries, please contact David Campbell, principal remote sensing scientist.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.