Water Active Ltd

Pipekit coming up roses

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Courtesy of Water Active Ltd

PipeKit, a specialist plastic pipe distributor based in Shrewsbury, recently supplied an extensive range of plastic pipework and drainage products to David Austin Roses, as the specialist rose company took on an ambitious extension and water conservation plan at its Shropshire site.

As one of the leading growers and breeders of English Roses, the past two years have seen David Austin Roses design and implement a range of new re-cycling and irrigation initiatives to dramatically increase its water catchment provision. Traditionally, the lifeblood of the nursery had been the local stream. But with the success of the business, since its origins in 1969, the nursery’s annual water consumption requirements were predicted to exceed the stream’s yearly abstraction rates of 53,000 m3, prescribed by the Environmental Agency. Furthermore the nursery also needed to guarantee security of water supply after several years of near drought conditions, with restricted abstraction from the stream for long periods. As a result, the management team at David Austin Roses set about to significantly increase the ability to harvest free water for itself in its pursuit of water conservation and to protect and grow its business.

The nursery team projected that at the end of the current five year expansion plan, the site would require approximately 110,000m3 of water per annum, over double that of the current stream abstraction rates. This mismatch of supply versus demand drove the water harvesting plan forward and led to significant infrastructure changes to the re-cycling, irrigation, drainage and holding of water from rose bed, hard surface and building sources on site.

PipeKit supplied the irrigation pipework used for the new French Drain system constructed under the rose beds to collect all run off water used in the irrigation process. Naylor 225mm twinwall pipe and connectors were supplied by PipeKit and installed for the main header drain, on the end of each container bed, to take the water down the French drain and eventually into the silos and Catchment Reservoir.

The Catchment Reservoir, a brand new water basin built on site as an addition to the main Holding Reservoir located a 1/4 mile away, was built to regulate the additional water gained from the harvesting process and works with the aid of three newly constructed capture silos. Each sunken silo is 18 m3 and includes a pump that pumps the water out into the Catchment Reservoir when a certain level is met. This in turn is pumped from the Catchment Reservoir to the main Holding Reservoir, which was also improved from 27,000m3 holding capacity to 75,000 m3, and distributed from, where required, throughout the year.

Naylor 450mm twinwall pipe and connectors were also supplied by PipeKit to address the additional risks of flooding on site. The Nursery team increased the drainage pipe size across the main loading bay, which serves one of the new large catchment silos, and of which all bed water is directed to, in order to avoid flooding experienced earlier in 2012.

Commenting on why PipeKit was chosen as the main irrigation pipe supplier, Chris Lowe, Nursery Manager said: “We were looking for a local company who could supply the right product at a competitive price and PipeKit fitted the bill. However, during the project I was very impressed with the customer service I received, extending from useful advice to very good delivery, and therefore I have continued to use them based on all of this criteria. It’s a flexible model, where I can go online and/or phone if I am unsure of my requirement or want further information from the PipeKit team”.

David Austin Roses now has a network of approximately 2.5km of new pipework for the re-circulation and capture of water on site and has tripled the capacity of water the business can use. Commenting on the success of the project, Robert Corbett, Licensing Manager at the company said: “We are currently achieving 25% re-circulation from irrigation, 40% from rainfall and 80% from hard standing surfaces and buildings. We currently calculate that, given average rainfall and irrigation patterns, at the expected efficiency, the new system will capture and re-circulate over 65,000 m3 of water per annum, which should more than achieve our shortfall”.

He continues, “for these statistics alone we have to be really pleased with our results, and yet this is actually an under-estimate because it does not account for the increased size of the main Holding Reservoir and the natural capture of rainwater on a bigger surface. Approximately every mm of rain that falls on the surface of the reservoir equates to 20m3, further increasing our water capture per annum and therefore very much exceeding our demands and expectations”.

Following the massive undertaking on site over the past two years, the water conservation efforts have succeeded in reducing the reliance of the David Austin Roses business on the local water reserves and as a result, helping to improve its business. David Austin Roses believes that these improvements will help them achieve a 10% uplift in their business every year, due to the increased amount of products they can now grow and reduction on wastage of crops, due to weather extremes.

Summarising the project, Chris Lowe, Nursery Manager said: “We have been delighted at how quickly we are seeing the results from our labour. It has been a very intensive project with many parts and all of which were essential to take us forward. As a whole, the new infrastructure in place will be responsible for growing our business, at the same time as conserving and preserving the natural resources of the local area”.

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