Pumping station

Pumping station

Pumping stations are facilities including pumps and equipment for pumping fluids from one place to another. They are used for a variety of infrastructure systems that many people take for granted, such as the supply of water to canals, the drainage of low-lying land, and the removal of sewage to processing sites.

A pumping station is, by definition, an integral part of a Pumped-storage hydroelectricity installation.

Canal water supply

In countries with canal systems, pumping stations are also frequent. Because of the way the system of canal locks work, water is lost from the upper part of a canal each time a vessel passes through. Also, most lock gates are not watertight, so some water leaks from the higher levels of the canal to those lower down. Obviously, the water has to be replaced or eventually the upper levels of the canal would not hold enough water to be navigable.

Canals are usually fed by diverting water from streams and rivers into the upper parts of the canal, but if no suitable source is available, a pumping station can be used to maintain the water level. An excellent example of a canal pumping station is the Claverton Pumping Station on the Kennet and Avon Canal in southern England. This pumps water from the nearby River Avon to the canal using pumps driven by the power of the river itself.

Where no external water supply is available, back pumping systems may be employed. Water is extracted from the canal below the lowest lock of a flight and is pumped back to the top of the flight, ready for the next boat to pass through. Such installations are usually very small.

Land drainage

When low lying areas of land are drained, the general method is to dig drainage ditches. However, if the area is below sea level then it is necessary to pump the water upwards into water channels that finally drain into the sea.

The Victorians understood this concept, and in the United Kingdom they built pumping stations with water pumps, powered by steam engines to accomplish this task. In Lincolnshire, large areas of wetland at sea level, called The Fens, were turned into rich arable farmland by this method. The land is full of nutrients because of the accumulation of sedimentary mud that created the land initially.

Elsewhere, pumping stations are used to remove water that has found its way into low-lying areas as a result of leakage or flooding (in New Orleans, for example).

Package pumping station

In more recent times, a 'package pumping station' provides an efficient and economical way of installing a drainage system. They are suitable for mechanical building services collection and pumping of liquids like surface water, wastewater or sewage from areas where drainage by gravity is not possible. A package pumping station is an integrated system, built in a housing manufactured from strong, impact-resistant polyethylene or GRP (glass-reinforced plastic). The unit is supplied with internal pipework fitted, pre-assembled ready for installation into the ground, after which the submersible pumps and control equipment are fitted. Features may include controls for fully automatic operation; a high-level alarm indication, in the event of pump failure; and possibly a guide-rail/auto-coupling/pedestal system, to permit easy removal of pumps for maintenance.

Compared to the conventional alternative of a concrete well and separate pump system, a packaged system offers the potential for reducing the cost and time involved with civil work and site labour.

ewerage systems

Pumping stations in sewage collection systems, also called "lift stations", are normally designed to handle raw sewage that is fed from underground gravity pipelines (pipes that are laid at an angle so that a liquid can flow in one direction under gravity). Sewage is fed into and stored in an underground pit, commonly known as a "wet well". The well is equipped with electrical instrumentation to detect the level of sewage present. When the sewage level rises to a predetermined point, a pump will be started to lift the sewage upward through a pressurized pipe system called a "sewer force main" from where the sewage is discharged into a gravity manhole. From here the cycle starts all over again until the sewage reaches its point of destination – usually a treatment plant. By this method, pumping stations are used to move waste to higher elevations. In the case of high sewage flows into the well (for example during peak flow periods and wet weather) additional pumps will be used. If this is insufficient, or in the case of failure of the pumping station, a backup in the sewer system can occur, leading to a sanitary sewer overflow – the discharge of raw sewage into the environment.

Sewage pumping stations are typically designed so that one pump or one set of pumps will handle normal peak flow conditions. Redundancy is built into the system so that in the event that any one pump is out of service, the remaining pump or pumps will handle the designed flow. The storage volume of the wet well between the 'pump on' and 'pump off' settings is designed to minimize pump starts and stops, but is not so long a detention time as to allow the sewage in the wet well to go septic.

The interior of a sewage pump station is a very dangerous place. Poisonous gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide can accumulate in the wet well; an ill-equipped person entering the well would be overcome by fumes very quickly. Any entry into the wet well requires the correct confined space entry method for a hazardous environment. To minimize the need for entry, the facility is normally designed to allow pumps and other equipment to be removed from outside the wet well.

Pumped-storage schemes

:Main|Pumped-storage hydroelectricityA pumped-storage scheme is a type of power station for storing and producing electricity to supply high peak demands by moving water between reservoirs at different elevations.

Typically, water is channelled from a high-level reservoir to a low-level reservoir, through turbine generators that generate electricity. This is done when the station is required to generate power. During low-demand periods, such as overnight, the generators are reversed to become pumps that move the water back up to the top reservoir.

:"See also: List of pumped-storage plants

List of pumping stations

There are countless thousands of pumping stations throughout the world. The following is a list of those described in this encylopaedia.

Great Britain

In Great Britain, a considerable number of former pumping stations have been preserved and opened as museum attractions. The majority are, or were steam-powered, except as identified:

Canal water supply

*Claverton Pumping Station, on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Bath "(water-powered)"
*Cobb's Engine House, ruin near southern portal of Netherton Tunnel
*Crofton Pumping Station, on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Great Bedwyn
*Leawood Pump House, on the Cromford Canal in Derbyshire
*Smethwick Engine, now removed from original site to Birmingham Thinktank

Groundwater supply

"Used to pump water from a well into a reservoir"
*Mill Meece Pumping Station, in Staffordshire
*Papplewick Pumping Station, Nottinghamshire "(pumped from a 200ft deep well)"

Hydraulic power station

*Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London "(converted to electricity, now an arts centre and restaurant)"

Land drainage

*Prickwillow Engine House, near Ely, Cambridgeshire "(now the Museum of Fenland Drainage)"
*Stretham Old Engine, Stretham, Cambridgeshire
*Westonzoyland Pumping Station, Somerset

Public water supply

"Used to pump drinking water from a reservoir into a water supply system."
*Blagdon Pumping Station, Chew Valley, Somerset
*Edgbaston Waterworks, Birmingham "(probably not a 'museum' site)"
*Kempton Park Pumping Station, London
*Kew Bridge Pumping Station, Kew Bridge, London
*Langford Pumping Station ("Museum of Power"), Essex


*Abbey Pumping Station, Leicester
*Abbey Mills Pumping Station, in North London. "(steam engines no longer present)"
*Claymills Pumping Station, near Burton upon Trent
*Coleham Pumping Station, Coleham, near Shrewsbury
*Crossness Pumping Station, in South London
*Low Hall Pumping Station, Walthamstow, North London
*Markfield Beam Engine, Tottenham, London

Underground Railway

*Brunel Engine House (now Brunel Museum), Rotherhithe, East London "(extracted water from Thames Tunnel; engine no longer present)"
*Shore Road Pumping Station, Birkenhead, Wirral "(originally steam, now electric; extracts water from the rail tunnel under the River Mersey)"


Land drainage

*Cruquius pumping station "(Operational, but no longer steam-powered.)"
*:– an 8-beam Cornish engine with the largest cylinder (3.5m (144in) diameter) in the world.
*ir.D.F. Woudagemaal, (ir. Wouda pumping station) "(world's largest steam-powered pumping station)"

ee also

*Drainage in New Orleans
*Edmonston Pumping Plant
*Sewage pumping
*Submersible pump
*Water pumping

Waterworks railways

*Colne Valley Waterworks railway, Eastbury Pumping Station, near Watford
*Metropolitan Water Board Railway, Kempton Park, London
*List of narrow gauge railways at water treatment and sewage works in Great Britain

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