Water lab brings testing expertise to Newport
2:02pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
VITAL testing of hundreds of thousands of samples of the water we consume every day across Wales is now being done by a team of experts based in Newport.
Fifty people are employed at the new Glaslyn laboratory opened by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water in the former HSBC building at the city's Cleppa Park.
And part of the £10.4 million investment includes sensitive high tech equipment capable of detecting a single drop's worth of contamination in the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools full of water.
A series of testing areas have been developed at the site, following the company's decision last year to bring its testing back in-house.
Staff at Glaslyn will carry out around 750,000 wide-ranging analyses of drinking water samples every year to try to ensure the highest possible quality for 1.4 million homes and businesses across Wales and Herefordshire.
A wide range of microbiological and chemical tests are carried out on drinking water samples, and samples from the rivers, reservoirs and springs this drinking water comes from. They also ensure the processes of 66 water treatment works are effective.
Tests are carried out every day and the laboratory will be open 365 days a year.
Chemical tests include those for acidity, alkalinity and colour, as well as for more than 40 metals, nitrates, phosphates, pesticides and herbicides.
A cryptosporidium testing area is also planned, though this will not open until next winter.
And among all the expensive state-of-the-art equipment , there is space for a very human input into the process - a tasting and odour lab where specially trained staff sample water to measure levels at which different tastes and odours can be detected.
John Bryant, chairman of Glas Cymru, which owns Dwr Cymru, predicts that the expertise employed at the laboratory will be a "huge asset" to the company its customers for years to come.
"We hope it will make a significant contribution to the Welsh economy through the scientific knowledge we are able to develop," he said.
Dwr Cymru's chief operating officer Peter Perry said the aim is to make Glaslyn a centre of excellence, using the latest analytical technology.
"We have begun to develop links with local universities and our aim is to ensure that skills are developed within the local economy," he said.
Mr Perry praised Newport city council for its support during the development of the laboratory.
Glaslyn also boasts lofty environmental credentials to go with it's employees' expertise.
An array of solar panels on the roof help generate electricity for the site, while rainwater is redirected from the roof into planters and landscaped channels, to reduce surface water and the cost of treating it.
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