Wet! Wet! Wet!

Welcome to the latest edition of Valve User magazine!

Is it a tidal wave of water, or paper, that
we fear?

Six weeks ago a drought was formally declared across most of the UK. As this announcement came in April – traditionally the month of ‘April Showers’ – it came as no surprise to the cynical UK population that we then had to endure 6 weeks of extraordinarily heavy, unrelenting rain!

The western, Atlantic-facing half of Britain generally has more rain than it can cope with, while very little of it apparently percolates across to the crop-growing east. In a country so incredibly narrow, the solution appears simple – a pipeline to move the excess to where it’s needed.

‘Ah but it’s not that easy’ I hear you cry! Er, well frankly, yes it is. Just because it sounds difficult, it doesn’t mean the difficulties are insurmountable.

We manage to pipe gas from Russia all the way to the UK. Much of it is hot, sour, and very high pressure – yet with comparative ease we shift it thousands of miles – even across the Channel - to the place where it is needed. Sub-sea pipelines can be sat on the sea-bed, some trenched and filled under the sea, others innovative constructions of super-duplex pipes sat within outer pipes.

In Libya, a country with more challenges than most, they managed to construct their great man-made river, crossing thousands of kilometres of the Sahara desert, bringing 6.5 million cubic metres of fresh water every day to their coastal cities. The UK though, it appears, has a problem in constructing a comparatively tiny stretch of overland pipeline, made from simple, common materials, to carry a low pressure, completely innocuous fluid that everyone needs.

This country is brimming with technical expertise as well as water! We have the best engineering minds coupled with the very best valve manufacturers and suppliers. It should not be beyond the wit of man to design and implement such a very simple solution.

The Libyan pipeline – designed by contractors the UK valve companies regularly supply – and which has a humongous diameter, is reported to have cost US $25b to install. In the UK we are about to spend £32b on a slightly faster train that will deliver passengers 20 or so minutes earlier at their destination. Upon reflection, I can only assume the purpose of the speedier train is to deliver parched south/eastern folk to the wetter north and west, when they run out of water!

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 21

Summer 2020 // Issue 53
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