Fairfields has successfully completed many projects in the waterways and water control sector for various clients in the UK and abroad. Our clients include the Environment Agency, Scottish Canals, British Waterways and its successor organisation, the Canal & River Trust. We aim to offer the best possible solution for our clients whilst utilising equipment that is best suited to the user, both in terms of reliability and operational practicality. Through our complete turnkey approach and close ties with mechanical and hydraulics providers, we offer a complete service to all our customers. This, coupled with our commitment to quality in design and manufacture, makes us the perfect partner for your water control solutions.

Accurate measurement is critical to all water level and flow monitoring applications, whether the data is used for information or for automating an application. We design intelligent level/flow monitoring systems, often comprising of duplicated or triplicated devices of dissimilar technologies, which can self-check and vote to provide an accurate and resilient control level which can be further validated against digital devices if necessary.

Through the use of various communication technologies, often leased lines, ADSL, 3G and radio, data can be acquired from multiple remote sites to a central location to provide the asset owners and operators with live level and flow monitoring data, presented through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) which incorporates alarming and historical data logging for post event analysis.

The waterways and water controls projects that Fairfields has undertaken have required robust ICA control systems, safe methods of operation incorporating reliable fail-safe mechanisms and market leading equipment.

Automation Risk Assessment

Key to the performance of any automated water level control asset is its specification. The ICA aspects of such assets are often overlooked in favour of the civil and mechanical engineering disciplines. The resilience of an asset’s ICA systems is paramount to its reliable and safe operation.

In addition to the design, build, installation and commissioning of ICA systems for waterways and water controls assets, we have particular expertise in carrying out Automation Risk Assessments (ARA) at the early stages of projects, with the particular aim of identifying and eliminating any adverse impacts of component failure. The ARA looks at the possibility and potential consequences of a given system failure. The process ensures that the basis for design of an ICA system will result in a control system which will provide an appropriate level of resilience according to the potential consequences of a system failure.

In addition to system specification at the outset, we have significant experience in supporting our clients with post-event appraisal of ICA system performance, which can often lead to enhancement of control philosophies.

Almost without exception, the waterways projects that Fairfields has undertaken have required robust ICA control systems, safe methods of operation incorporating reliable fail-safe mechanisms and market leading equipment. Our systems are designed to be of the highest integrity with appropriate fall-back strategies in the event of component failure.


Pumping Stations

Pumping stations are key to the effective management of water levels in many areas. Pumping stations can be used simply as a means of transferring water from one location to another, such as regional water transfer and borehole schemes for drinking water, or for ongoing and emergency level control. Often pumping stations are combined with the use of sluicing systems where energy efficiency is maximised through the routine sluicing of water, but under high level or flood conditions, the sluice is closed and pumps used to pump over. It is in this area where our knowledge excels. We have implemented both new sluicing and pumping schemes but have also refined many existing control schemes in order to improve their effectiveness, energy efficiency and resilience. We have implemented a number of measures to improve system performance:

  • PLC based systems to increase flexibility and allow quick & easy system setting changes
  • Level detection triplication to boost system resilience and availability
  • Active tide monitoring to reduce un-necessary pumping in tidal reaches
  • Active upstream monitoring to better manage downstream levels and accommodate rapid level changes
  • Level Dependant move and wait philosophy to maximise system response


Flood Alleviation and Defence

Flooding is a real concern and the instances of flooding appear to be on the increase following the adverse weather conditions which the UK has endured over the past few years. Flooding not only puts people’s homes and personal possessions at risk, but also their lives. In our work with the Environment Agency, we have provided ICA solutions for a host of flood alleviation and defence schemes, many of which protect towns, cities and properties by automatically detecting rising water levels and managing the flow of water downstream. Within the design of a Flood Alleviation Scheme control philosophy, it is important that the correct balance is achieved between the restriction of water flowing downstream to protect people and their homes whilst still maintaining a safe maximum throughput to maximise the storage of flood water. We have extensive experience in the application of Flood Alleviation Schemes, with our systems providing peace of mind to towns and cities such as:

  • Long Eaton – Derbyshire
  • Cannock – Staffordshire
  • Brentingby – Melton Mowbray
  • Frisby – Leicestershire
  • The Nene Washlands – Northamptonshire
  • Morpeth – Northumberland
  • Leeds – West Yorkshire


Many of these schemes are multi-site, with control systems that are managed from one central location via communications networks under normal conditions, but which have the ability to revert to local control should a communications fault exist.


Level & Flow Control

Our waterways experience not only lies within the management of water control structures under emergency conditions, to protect property and lives, but also in the ongoing management of water course and river levels. Level management techniques are used extensively to normalise levels for the benefit of both people and wildlife. People are reliant upon effective level management systems for both pleasure and leisure activities but also for more mundane reasons such as water abstraction. We have implemented level management systems at a number of locations nationally and internationally:

  • The River Avon – River level management
  • The River Weaver – Cheshire
  • Holme Sluice – Nottingham
  • Sarihidir Dam – Turkey
  • River Segura – Spain
  • River Fosse – York
  • Perdieswell – Worcester
  • Zoons Court – Gloucester


The level control schemes which we have implemented have provided us with a great deal of experience on the control and operation of a number of differing control structures including:

  • Penstocks
  • Rising spindle sluices gates
  • Guillotine and radial gates
  • Fish belly gates
  • Inflatable rubber dams
  • Beamless tilting weir


Service Support & Frameworks

In order to further support our customers, we offer tailored service and framework agreements comprising routine planned preventative maintenance (PPM) and emergency 24/7 365 day response. Dependent upon specification, our systems are supplied with the ability to be remotely accessed, especially in the waterways sector as assets are often located in hard to reach areas – some even becoming inaccessible under certain conditions.

The work Fairfields carried out on the Avon Sluices involved automating seven sluice gates and creating a full SCADA system, which is based in our Tewkesbury office, with all of the remote sites linked to this central site. The whole project was carried out on time and to budget, in an extremely professional manner. All of their engineers have always demonstrated maturity along with technical prowess and have the ability to train non-technical personnel in the operation of complex sites.

Martin Hayes

MEICA Manager

Environment Agency Midlands Region

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