Coed y Brenin is a mountain biker’s paradise – but its new visitor centre requires a dependable water supply. With a piped water main priced at more than £500,000, a borehole was the answer. Things were not quite that simple though.
Located near Dolgellau in mid-west Wales, Coed y Brenin Forest Park provides some of the best mountain biking in the world. Rated as one of the top ten international sites for the sport, there are 100 kilometers of track in the area, much of it purpose-made for riders of all abilities.
It is a wild a beautiful area that last year attracted 70,000 visitors, including walkers, horse riders, birdwatchers and other nature lovers.
Clearly an adequate supply of water was essential. In that respect the centre had an immediate problem, as they had been quoted half a million pounds to bring piped mains water to the building. Creating a private borehole was the obvious answer, and the first step was to drill a well, not only to ensure that there was water, but in adequate quantities.
Even this was not straightforward, as the local area manager Aled Thomas told Grundfos and the company WB+AD Morgan.
“Our brief is to provide recreation facilities, which in turn have brought £3 million to the local economy. The Forestry Commission Wales’ commitment to environmental issues and sustainability is paramount. For example the new centre is being built using our own timber, insulated with recycled paper. It will be heated with the latest woodchip-fired system.
“With the new water supply, it is important that we set an example, and do not depend on the availability of mains electricity.
The solution chosen uses a combination of wind energy and solar power to provide electricity for a submersible pump (Grundfos SQFlex) The obvious challenge providing water on a dark, still day – is overcome by pumping water into a 2700 litre holding tank and supplies are drawn from that.
Three drilling firms were invited to tender for the project, and the contract was won by WB+AD Morgan. “We were impressed with their presentation and professional approach, which included a first-class hydrological survey”, says Alex Welnischuck.
Grundfos who manufacture the pumps and energy sources were involved in the presentation, and convinced us that their equipment had a good performance and track record.
WB+AD Morgan work to high standards of environmental care – they have considerable experience drilling boreholes for bottled water companies – and their engineering procedures are designed to eliminate the risk of introducing pollution while creating a borehole.
The river Eden is close by – a SSSl classified river with a sensitive ecology including freshwater pearl mussels and otters. For this reason biodegradable drilling muds were used, and the water run-off from drilling operations carefully disposed of to avoid possible contamination.
SQFlex – a profile of power
Leading pump manufacturer Grundfos has developed a system to enable water to be pumped from boreholes where there is no mains electricity, and where it is neither possible nor desirable to constantly run a generator. Electricity is supplied by alternative energy – solar and wind power.
With advances in pump technology over recent years, locations that would previously have been considered uninhabitable or not supportive of life have become viable. Although originally conceived for extreme climates in Africa, Asia and America, SQFlex has attracted interest in the parts of the British Isle where main power is not available, but there is requirement for an energy-efficient water supply.
Consolidation is possible by upgrading older unreliable pump technology. It is a pioneering system because it offers stable, low-maintenance pumping solutions in remote areas. In all circumstances, reliability and low maintenance are essential.
The SQFlex system succeeds where other pump systems struggle by adapting to the characteristics weather profile of any give area. By analyzing location specific variables such as average sunshine and wind speed, Grundfos calculate how much natural energy is available over an average season.
In hot or constantly windy environments, it is possible to use either wind or solar power alone, in the UK the practical answer is normally a combination of the two.