Drilling & Tapping

The UK Drilling & Tapping Competition is organised by the Institute of Water. The competition is a time trial for teams of two and is open to anyone connected with the water industry. The next competition takes place at Utility Week Live (formally IWEX) in Birmingham’s NEC, 21st and 22nd May 2019.

The aim is to drill and tap a 150mm-diameter ductile iron main under available pressure, together with the installation of a simulated service connection.

Skill, dexterity and speed are a prime requirement, but quality is paramount and time penalty points are added if there is any leaks or infringements of the Rules & Regulations governing the Championships.

A combined drilling and tapping machine incorporating a 25mm ferrule makes the connection. The machine is attached to the ductile iron main in such a way that a watertight seal is made between the machine and the main. The machine is then cranked by hand to drill and tap the main. The drill bit is reversed and the machine cylinder is rotated through 180 degrees. The gunmetal ferrule is then inserted into the main.

Once inserted, the machine is removed and the service connection that has been prepared by the other team member is then attached to the ferrule outlet to represent the simulated service connection. The connection is complete once water flows from the service tap.

The quality of the work is then judged and seconds are added to the running time for leaks, safety and other technical violations. The team with the fastest time wins and a prize is awarded for a ‘quality tap’ i.e. no penalty points incurred.


From the beginning

The first year of the competition was in 1989, where all the teams were inexperienced and not exactly knowing what to expect.

The competition was originally developed to give distribution operatives the opportunity to be involved in a national event and to receive recognition for the service they provide to the public.

The first contest was held at Watertec ’89 at the NEC Birmingham.

Twenty-six teams entered the first competition, which was won by North Surrey Water Company.

In each subsequent year as the competition has developed more teams have participated and the times have continued to improve.



The competition came down to the last run as both teams (Clancy Docwra & Anglian Water) successfully secured a ‘quality tap’, however it was Anglian Water who stormed to victory and claimed back the title from Northumbrian Water with a run of 2 minutes 13 seconds. Jason Barratt (Solutions Delivery Engineer) and Lee Maddock (Clancy DOCWRA operative) from the Anglian Water team will now go on to represent the UK once again in next year’s 2020 World Water Cup competition in Orlando Florida!

To enter Drilling and Tapping 2020, or if you have any general enquiries, then please get in touch!

 Megan Williams, Events & Marketing Assistant, Institute of Water
T: 0191 422 0088
E: megan@instituteofwater.org.uk