Case Study

Southern Water strengthen route selection process, with Optioneer

Southern Water had limited resources and time to conduct a thorough selection process for a national park project. Optioneer analysed millions of routes, enabling the company to quickly identify 5 strong route contenders for final evaluation and consent.

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2.5 million

Route scenarios analysed

50+

Types of route constraints evaluated by Optioneer

12

Route corridors identified with 5 shortlisted

Introduction

Southern Water selected Optioneer to drive the delivery of a challenging routing project in a national park as part of a wider portfolio of new water pipelines.

The company is responsible for freshwater and wastewater networks that serve millions of customers across an area in excess of 10,000km2 in southern England.

Southern Water recognised that Optioneer could streamline the delivery of new water pipeline projects, especially those that run near to protected sites where delays caused by local opposition and planning setbacks are more frequent.

The challenge of managing a robust route selection process, before using Optioneer.

Traditional engineering approaches that are used for water pipeline programmes are manual and time consuming, constraining the number of route options that can be studied.

Furthermore, with limited resources and time constraints, water companies cannot always collate sufficient data on prospective routes to make a comprehensive assessment of all or most possible options.

Typically only 2-3 candidates will be considered due to these limitations, making it difficult for Southern Water to defend their preferred pipeline route scenarios. This leads to delays, increased costs and reputational damage.

Why Southern Water selected Optioneer

With a portfolio of water pipelines at different stages of development, Southern Water needed a solution to overcome the challenges they faced on key pipeline projects.

Specifically, Southern Water needed to reduce project delays and cost rises incurred from local opposition to proposed pipeline routes, whilst recognising the constraints of limited team resources.

The company was attracted to Optioneer as the platform can assess millions of prospective routes in less time with all the detail to put forward a strong application for planning consent.

The flexibility of the platform meant the company could involve local stakeholders much earlier on and incorporate their feedback with simple updates and changes to route options.

As Tamzyn Janes, Project Manager at Southern Water says:

“Normally, it would take us months to review and iterate on multiple routes through environmentally sensitive and protected locations, but we've been able to complete our work in weeks.”
Southern Water

How Southern Water used Optioneer

Southern Water got to work on identifying prospective corridors and routes for a 15-20km pipeline by configuring environmental, social, logistical, engineering and cost parameters for Optioneer to evaluate.

The company leveraged Optioneer’s open-source and publicly available geospatial data which was augmented with their own proprietary data and used to automatically drive generation and evaluation of potential pipeline scenarios.

With over 2.5 million route options identified, the platform initially shortlisted 12 relevant corridors with full reporting on key environmental and safety risks such as proximity to population centres and protected sites. This enabled the team to further narrow the list to 5 preferred scenarios.

Optioneer became a single reference point for all data, site feedback and key decisions on the pipeline project, helping the team to streamline collaboration online and accelerate the overall project development process.

Training was simple and only took a couple of hours with an intuitive online (WebGIS) interface.

Tamzyn James highlighted the platform’s powerful GIS visualisations as being of great value:

“The visual heat maps that it generates show all of the options that we have explored and we will use them to explain the choices that we've made to safeguard the environment to local stakeholders.”
Southern Water

The result

Southern Water successfully completed their pilot of Optioneer, running a route selection process that identified over 2.5 million options and resulted in a final shortlist of 5 contenders.

The company saved significant time and improved decision making by consolidating all route scenario analysis to Optioneer. The platform became a single reference point for all data and feedback, and helped to streamline collaboration across teams on the 20km water pipeline programme.

“We have had a great experience using Optioneer to assess route options for a new pipeline scheme. Normally, it would take us months to review and iterate on multiple routes through environmentally sensitive and protected locations, but we've been able to complete our work in weeks using Optioneer”
Tamzyn Janes
Project Manager
Southern Water
2.5 million

Route scenarios analysed

50+

Types of route constraints evaluated by Optioneer

12

Route corridors identified with 5 shortlisted

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