Precast solutions for AMP7

In AMP7, (the water industry’s regulatory asset management period for 2020 to 2025) the Office of Water Services (OFWAT) requires Water Companies to include a set of performance commitments relating specifically to new asset health performance, infrastructure resilience and sustainability.

OFWAT’s expectations for sewerage focus on five outcome delivery incentives

• External Sewer Flooding
• Internal Sewer Flooding
• Pollution Incidents
• Blockages
• Sewer Collapses

Water companies in England and Wales now face major penalties for flooding and pollution events on top of the cost of restoring an asset or repairing any damage.

Typical penalty costs and that of an internal flooding event, where a customer’s home is directly affected, can run into thousands of pounds, and water companies are targeted with a tight score for the number of breaches per years.

The good news is that the Government announced a multi-billion pound investment to tackle long-term flooding in July.

The £5.2 billion plan is to create around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences to better protect 336,000 properties in England by 2027. The plans also include £200 million for innovative projects such as sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions like temporary and permanent water storage areas.

A successful water management project recently completed to reduce pollution into local waterways is the Davyhulme wastewater treatment works in Manchester. Where Laing O’Rourke on behalf on United Utilities successfully installed precast box culverts.

The modernisation programme of the multimillion-pound project involved the remediation of previously abandoned land, followed by the construction of six circular primary settlement tanks and a large activated sludge plant with 10 circular final settlement tanks. This work lead to significant environmental benefits for the site, which resulted in outflow improvements, and subsequently the quality of water, entering the Manchester Ship Canal.

Both standard precast concrete box culverts and bespoke ‘made to order’ box culverts were supplied to the project, with Graham Flynn, Laing O’Rourke Project Director saying: “Our ability to maximise the benefits of modern, offsite construction and engineering techniques was central to our solution, meaning that we could deliver this complex scheme in a live environment with minimal disruption.”

The delivery team on the project comprised of design heavyweights Hyder Consulting and Mott MacDonald, who worked in collaboration with Laing O’Rourke; together the team has a proven record of accomplishment of designing and delivering some of the UK’s most complex water projects.

For more information on precast box culverts, please visit

Below Ground Water Management Systems is the right answer

Many sewer systems in the UK can no longer cope with the surge of rainfall and flooding events and with many urban areas increasingly used for housing and commercial projects, below ground water management systems that can be built upon meaning there is no loss of land take are becoming more valuable.

SuDS or Sustainable Drainage Systems that take into account water quality, quantity and climate change look to control the flow rate of surface water run-off, the storage and collection and treatment of below ground water systems.

In April this year, a new code for sewers adoption came into effect, which included SuDS assets for the first time, with water companies taking ownership and responsibility for sustainable drainage systems.  Introduced in 2014, as one of the main measures to control and mitigate flooding through the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), SuDS looks at natural waterways to control, manage and store surface water runoff.

SuDs should ease the pressure on the drainage network and attenuation tanks have been included in the new guidance for the first time.  Where land is scarce, stormwater attenuations solutions such as an underground tank system can be installed using a precast concrete flatpack system, box culverts or large diameter pipes. 

Below ground, precast water management systems can be used in unsuitable ground conditions, such as high water tables or areas where the soil can be a hazard.  The weather can also pose a risk as some systems can be subject to floatation, the heavy nature of concrete means it does not float.  Some engineered systems can also be badly affected by bright sunlight and hot weather during installation, whilst this may not happen often in the UK, it is happening more and more due to climate change.

According to an English Housing Survey (2014/5) over 75% of the 23.4 million homes in England are over 40 years old, over 56% are over 55 years old and more than a fifth of occupied houses are over 100 years old.  Precast concrete pipeline systems have a design life of over 100 years so can easy match the service life required by the housing market.

Do you want to know more?  If so, please contact Billy Fairhurst on 07870 984 109 or email him at

New funding released to protect from flooding

The National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England has identified ways in which we can adjust to the threat of flooding and coastal change. 

This includes a commitment for the Risk Management Authorities to mainstream property flood resilience measures that can reduce flood damages and enable faster recovery for local communities;

As part of this commitment, the Government has set out measures, including investment of £5.2 billion to create around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences to better protect 336,00 properties in England by 2027.

The plans also include £200 million for innovative projects such as sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and nature-based solutions like temporary or permanent water storage areas, which also boost wildlife.

 These will support 25 areas at risk of flooding to test and demonstrate innovative actions to adapt to a changing climate and improve their resilience.

In addition, up to £170 million is to be spent to accelerate work on shovel-ready flood defence schemes that will begin construction in 2020 or 2021.

So how can we help with protecting against flooding?

We offer a host of below ground water management solutions, which include the capture, control, conveyance, storage (attenuate), treatment and discharge (release) back into the watercourse and the major benefit of using precast SuDS solutions (Sustainable Drainage Systems) is that you can build on top of them so there is no loss of land-take.

Using a precast concrete solution minimises the growth of algae and therefore doesn’t impact on the efficiency of control systems, such as pumps and valves within the storage tank and those supplied by Marshalls CPM have a 100 year design lifecycle so will not need replacing giving you peace of mind.

For more information, please visit

Above ground, we offer Redi-Rock retaining walls that are designed and manufactured to suit a wide variety of floodwater projects.  These include protecting commercial properties, residential areas, highways, river ways and sea frontages.  

The natural looking stone blocks are ideal for where space is scarce or areas where water may rise to unusual levels, as they can be double sided so look great whatever side of the wall you are on. For more information, please visit

In an age of flooding, what can we do to protect ourselves?

With three major storms this year already, the dangers of flooding, is threatening long-term damage to buildings, infrastructure and life so how can we protect ourselves from floodwater whilst still living our normal lives?

One way is to ensure that our underground stormwater attenuation systems are large enough to ensure that it can capture rainwater and release it slowly, so it does not overflow our systems.

With floodwater plains now used for housing and other infrastructure, we need to build underground systems that cannot only manage the floodwater but can also be built upon, such as using heavyweight solutions like precast concrete storage solutions and pipe systems.

Allowing for greater capacity in the system, concrete pipe and tank systems have the ability to trap and treat surface water and storm water and store it before releasing it slowly back into the drainage system (or watercourse) when pressure on the system has reduced.

Using a smaller footprint area, precast pipes and tank systems can be buried in most areas on an infrastructure site without the worry of creating a SUDS (Sustainable Drainage System) area above ground, such as swales and ponds that may add to the complications of floodwater or become a danger to life, or attract unwanted wildlife, such as rats.

Where attenuation is not the answer, another option to protecting your property, either private or commercial, is to install floodwalls.

These can look decorative so when not needed can blend into their natural surroundings but also protect in times when water may rise to unusual levels such as seasonal or extreme weather. 

Take for instance concrete Redi-Rock flood walling which are double sided so are ideal where space is scarce, or when a wall is needed that looks great either side and will protect you from flooding and the damage that entails, whether that be your home or your place of work or the infrastructure of getting between the two.

With a 100-year design life, the Redi-Rock walling gives you that extra security when flooding hits.

For more information on attenuation systems please visit and for more information on Redi-Rock walling systems please visit

Sewer Systems in the UK

The construction of pipe and underground systems have been around in one form or another for thousands of years, with the Romans developing cement and concrete similar to that used today.

The first sewer pipes were built of brick and mortar in the Indus Valley in 2500 BC. Some of these systems, constructed by the Persians, Macedonians and Minoans, contained brick-lined pits similar to modern septic systems. Eventually, the Romans and Greeks built extensive open sewer systems of brick and stone that carried effluent and trash to cesspools constructed of stone or concrete. Solids would then settle to the bottom and liquid would flow to nearby bodies of water. Rivers and waterways were used as free-flowing open sewers causing illness and death through the Country.

In the mid-19th century, London was suffering from recurring epidemics of choler, with more than 10,000 people dying of the disease between 1853 – 1854. It was believed at the time to be caused by foul air.

The hot summer of 1858 created the ‘Great Stink of London’, which overwhelmed all those who went near the Thames – including the occupants of Parliament. This, together with the frequent occurrence of cholera, gave impetus to legislation enabling the metropolitan board to begin work on sewers and street improvements. By 1866 most of London was connected to a sewer network devised by London’s Metropolitan Board of Works, Chief Engineer, Joseph Bazalgette.

He ensured that the flow of foul water from old sewers and underground rivers was intercepted and diverted along new, low-level sewers, built behind embankments on the riverfront and taken to new treatment works.

By 1870 both the Albert and the Victoria Embankments had been opened. These replaced the tidal mud of the Thames shore with reclaimed ground for riverside roads and gardens behind their curved river walls. The Victoria Embankment protected Bazalgette’s low-level sewer, as well as a service subway and the underground railway. The Chelsea Embankment was completed in 1874, reclaiming over 52 acres from the Thames. Six main interceptor sewers, totalling almost 160 km (100 miles) in length, were constructed, some incorporating stretches of London’s “lost” rivers.

Three of these sewers were north of the river, the southernmost, low-level one being incorporated in the Thames Embankment. The Embankment also allowed new roads, new public gardens, and the Circle line of the London Underground. Victoria Embankment was finally officially opened on 13 July 1870.

The intercepting sewers, constructed between 1859 and 1865, were fed by 450 miles (720 km) of main sewers that, in turn, conveyed the contents of some 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of smaller local sewers. Construction of the interceptor system required 318 million bricks, 2.7 million cubic metres of excavated earth and 670,000 cubic metres of concrete.

The innovative use of Portland cement strengthened the tunnels many of which are still in good order.

The first sewer systems in the United States were built in the late 1850s in Chicago and Brooklyn. In the United States, the first sewage treatment plant using chemical precipitation was built in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1890.

For over 150 years, concrete pipes have been used in the UK, with a proven history of performance these pipes are still in operation.  When a concrete pipe was discovered in 1891 it was found to be in good working order.

For more information on available sizes please visit

Does EA flood warning affect you?

The Environment Agency has warned that Britain’s flood planners must prepare for the worst on climate change, as its chairwoman, Emma Howard Boyd, said on current trends, global temperature could rise between 2C and 4C by 2100 and £billion a year would need to be spent on flood management, with some communities needing to move because of the risks of flooding.

The report from the EA has said that rising seas will swamp homes, with hundreds of key sites in England at risk of floods and that more should be done to encourage property owners to rebuild homes after flooding in better locations rather than just “recycling what was there before”.

The government said it will be seeking evidence for its own flood policy in the autumn.

Ms Howard Boyd, launching the consultation on the agency’s flood strategy, said government policy should ensure that all publicly-funded infrastructure is resilient to flooding and coastal change by 2050.

“We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences,” she said.  The agency expects more intense bursts of rain and continuing coastal erosion.  Ms Howard Boyd warned that climate change and population growth in England meant that properties built in the floodplain will double over the next 50 years.

The agency points towards research from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership which suggests that losses on UK mortgages could also double if global temperatures increase by 2C and triple if warming hits 4C.

These would be insurance-related losses related to outcomes of climate change such as more extreme weather.  Ms Howard-Boyd said the government’s six-year flood programme had given flood and coastal protection “a shot in the arm”, but she warned that more will be needed.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “Flooding and coastal erosion can have terrible consequences for people, businesses and the environment.  “That’s why we are already providing £2.6bn over six years, delivering more than 1,500 projects to better protect 300,000 homes.”

But she added that “the threat of climate change will mean an increasing risk and preparing the country is a priority for the government, and the nation as a whole”.

In a statement, Friends of the Earth said: “Smarter adaptation and resilience building – including natural flood management measures like tree-planting – is undeniably important.  But the focus must be first and foremost on slashing emissions so that we can avoid the worst consequences of climate chaos in the first place.”

Communities need to think about flood prevention and how solutions already on the market can protect their properties, such as the Marshalls CPM Redi-Rock™ flood walls that are designed and manufactured to suit a wide variety of flood water projects, as they are ideal for protecting commercial property and residential areas as well as larger infrastructure, highways, river ways and sea frontages.

Ideal where space is scarce or areas where water may rise to unusual levels, the flood blocks are both fast and easy to install and available in three aesthetically pleasing finishes so blend perfectly into the local environment.

As customer requirements are individual, so are the flood walls. They are designed to suit project specific size requirements by the Marshalls CPM Design team and are versatile enough to achieve height without compromising on strength.

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A sustainable product that you can trust

The argument for using precast concrete drainage products over other drainage materials has always been a compelling one, as the environmentally friendly, sustainable, heat resistant concrete continues to gain strength throughout its service life and leading drainage manufacturers, Marshalls CPM offering a 120 year design life on all of their precast concrete drainage products, its certainly one you can trust in.

In fact, Marshalls CPM have a 525mm ogee pipe at their Mells works in Somerset that was originally installed alongside the old castle in Norwich in 1891 and was excavated in June 1991 that shows no signs of deterioration and is structurally sound. When tested the pipe satisfied the requirements of the current standards for concrete pipes even though there were no standards when it was originally manufactured in 1891.

During the summer of this year, Marshalls CPM supplied flexible jointed concrete pipes to a £15m new sewer project in Frome Valley, Bristol which included the replacement of an existing pipe run to increase capacity for new developments in the area.

This work included digging up an old pipeline which included a 525mm rocker pipe that was manufactured at the Mells works in 1987. The rocker pipe is in perfect condition and has brought back many happy memories for employees, many of whom were just starting their working life with the Company in 1987.

When looking for a sustainable product that you can trust in, you can’t go wrong with precast concrete drainage solutions

Why is offsite the way forward?

With the construction industry constantly looking for fast, efficient, precast modular systems that decrease the number of health and safety issues on site, offsite construction is on the increase.

With products now being manufactured offsite under factory conditions and shipped to site and installed on the same day saving valuable man hours, installation costs, storage room and the need for skilled labour.

Marshalls CPM is leading the way in the manufacture of precast concrete offsite systems, offering water management products, flatpack systems and practical precast solutions based on sound design and engineering knowledge that are cost effective and a more sustainable approach to construction.

By offering offsite precast concrete products, customers have a great certainty over costs and programme timings, reducing the movement of vehicles on site and the Marshalls CPM technical team can offer help on your bespoke offsite solution.

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When the heat is on, you can trust concrete

The fire resistant properties of concrete are well known and in a world that can be devastated by fire in an instance, architects and planners can never underestimated the benefits of specifying concrete over more flammable materials.

Concrete is chemically inert and therefore virtually non-combustible. It has a slow rate of heat transfer, which means that using concrete retaining walls around your property can act as a fire shield.

But what about fires in our sewer system? It is true that they are rare but would you want to risk it? With damages to property and personal lawsuits, the repair bull can run into millions.

The American National Fire Protection Association is dedicated to promoting the science and improving the methods of fire prevention and protection published Bulletin NFPA No 328 which states “Manholes, sewers and similar underground conduits have long been recognized by fire protection engineers as constituting areas where fire and explosion hazards of some severity may exist. Modern civilization, accompanied by the increase number of fuel stations, solvent disposal operations, dry cleaning establishments, fuel gas production and distribution facilities, refrigeration plants and many other industrial activities with potentially dangerous gas vapor by-products make the safe operation of underground structure more difficult each year.”

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Modern Methods of Construction

With a sales team who have over 100 years of experience between them, Marshalls CPM is well placed in offering precast concrete solutions to the construction industry which can be used to reduce construction time and promote sustainability, as well as offering cost savings.

By embracing innovation and modern methods of construction and the construction industry’s demand for fast efficient, modular systems, Marshalls CPM provides precast concrete products that are designed, engineered and manufactured off-site under factory conditions at one of Marshalls CPM’s two manufacturing works. One in Mells, Somerset to service the South of the UK and one in Pollington, Yorkshire to service the North.

With a shortage of skilled labour in the construction industry, Marshalls CPM has worked on solutions that minimalise the need for skilled labour on site and maximise health and safety and cost efficiencies over traditional construction methods.