Esri Ireland technology helping the DURL Project

Esri Ireland, the market leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), has announced that its digital mapping system is embedded in the Dublin Urban Rivers LIFE (DURL) Project’s methodology, which is preventing circa 13 million litres of polluted wastewater from entering Dublin rivers annually.

DURL is a joint venture between South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils, with funding received from the EU LIFE Programme. It aims to improve water quality by finding and removing misconnected household appliances that are expelling polluted water into rivers in two catchment areas – River Griffeen Catchment in the South Dublin County Council area, and Carrickmines Stream and Shanganagh River in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area.

Misconnections tend to occur when homes are renovated or extended, and new appliances are installed. Some washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, and toilets can be mistakenly connected to the rainwater or stormwater drainage pipe instead of the sewage pipe, resulting in polluted water being discharged into local rivers and streams. Using Esri’s ArcGIS system, DURL has assessed over 8,300 homes to date and found over 1,000 misconnected appliances. Householder repairs are helping to improve water quality and aquatic biodiversity in their local rivers with over 85% of the misconnections fixed to date.

DURL’s field-based teams use ArcGIS Field Maps to view maps of the surface water drainage network on their mobile devices. Using this app, they lift manholes in residential areas, record signs of pollution in stormwater drains, and upload their findings directly to a central dashboard.

Data is captured and shared in real-time and all locations of pollution are instantly visible to office-based staff. These teams can then identify the domestic properties that are associated with each polluted drain, using further geospatial analysis and satellite imagery. Appointments, which take 15 minutes, are scheduled with homeowners at ‘high probability’ properties and if a misconnection is discovered, next steps are recommended to remedy the issue.

Using this technology, DURL’s rate of identifying misconnections has doubled, leading to a cost reduction of 50% through the project’s work. The solution is saving time for county council employees, who can focus their efforts on locations that are likely to be causing pollution. The project team has also developed a “Lite” version of the ArcGIS solution that can be used by other urban councils across Ireland and Europe as the basis for their own water quality improvement processes.

Briana Shiels, Project GIS Officer, Dublin Urban Rivers LIFE, said: “The driver for the project is always the quality of the rivers. ArcGIS enables us to find as many houses as possible with misconnected appliances, as efficiently as possible, to help Dublin’s rivers reach a good standard of water quality. Project information is transparent to everyone working on the project, whether in the field or in the office.”

Lorraine Beirne, Project Co-ordinator, Dublin Urban Rivers LIFE, said: “On average, 8% of domestic properties in Dublin have a misconnection and the DURL Project has identified a misconnection rate of greater than 30% in some housing estates as we now have a better system to pinpoint these properties and take action far more efficiently. With ArcGIS, we have built a replicable, standard solution with products that most local authorities in Ireland know and use already.”

Dermot O’Kane, Head of Sales, Esri Ireland, said: “This project is making a huge difference to the water quality and aquatic biodiversity in our Dublin rivers, making it an incredibly important project to work on. This technology is an efficient, digital process for inspecting suspected pollution which is easy to use and resulting in both cost and time savings for these county councils. We designed this solution with the future in mind, and we’re excited to see the technology being used elsewhere to improve the water quality for more rivers and waterways across Ireland and Europe.”

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