A strong performance on innovation has put Northumbrian Water at the top of the annual Water Company Performance Survey carried out by British Water,
Key findings from the 2022 survey include:
Northumbrian Water rises to first place, with Southern Water and Northern Ireland Water dropping to joint last
Health and safety, quality assurance and environmental policies were the highest scoring areas
Innovation scores continue to be low across the sector, despite increased investment
British s annual UK Water Company Performance Survey asks contractors, consultants and suppliers to rate their clients’ performance in 11 areas, including innovation, professionalism, contractual approach and procurement. The 2022 survey featured streamlined questions and the addition of four water-only companies for the first time. This year has seen a number of changes to the ranking, compared to last year’s survey. Northumbrian took the first position - up from fifth last year, with Anglian Water in second.
Wessex Water saw the biggest fall, moving from first to eighth position. Northern Ireland dropped to the eleventh position from third last year, with Southern Water dropping from eighth to joint eleventh. Scottish Water and United Utilities remained stable in third and fifth positions respectively.
Reflecting on the high scores of Northumbrian Water and Anglian Water, British Water’s head of Dr Mar Batista commented that both appear to have worked hard to embrace innovation across the business and strive to “get people in a room” through their innovation offerings such as the Northumbrian Innovation Festival and Anglian Water’s Innovation Network.
“It is important that we build on the innovation portals available across the sector to a culture of innovation across the industry. Innovation needs time commitment, people to be onboard and trust to be developed and that is easier to achieve when people and companies get to know each other and how they work,” said Batista.
Innovation can sometimes be adopted in a transactional way with water company representatives using the solutions that they may be more comfortable with or because something is needed urgently. This can create a narrow route and specific outcomes with regard to innovation.
“Supply chain companies will tend to want to work with businesses that are welcoming and with capacity for innovation, so innovation is more likely to happen when businesses and people are aligned,” she added.
Delivery of projects whether standard or innovative is difficult to achieve if the involved parties are rigid or work in isolation, explained Batista. Bringing together all parties is more likely to result in a good outcome for everyone – as they can all benefit from success or equally share the risk proportionally.
Long term collaboration beyond a project or five-year regulatory asset management period (AMP) can also produce more capacity as it takes a lot of effort and resource to get new relationships and collaboration off the ground.
Looking towards AMP8, which runs from 2025 to 2030 water companies are aware of the expectations coming through from Ofwat and the public with regard to affordability, environmental pollution and climate change. This is going to have an impact of the volume of work required in the sector which will grow significantly.
Batista said, “Building strong, trusted relationships and spreading spend is essential to allow businesses to grow and meet the demands going forward. The water sector will no doubt continue to through collecting and understanding data, and using new technologies which are integrated into the existing legacy equipment and processes.”
British Water’s annual survey was first undertaken in early 2003, in response to companies asking for feedback on how they were viewed by the industry supply chain, and how they were seen to compare with others. The survey seeks views of individuals working in the industry rather than a corporate standpoint.
The survey reflects a variety of opinions across the supply chain at every level of business. This range of views provides valuable insights for the industry into how water companies interact with their supply chain, how the supply chain feels about this, and the progress water utilities have made over the years.
Safeguarding water supplies and helping utilities and other clients protect public health is a top priority for manufacturers of water network fittings and components. Regulatory compliance is a key part of delivering high quality products that are fit for purpose and minimise risk.
Government regulations set legal requirements for the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of water fittings, systems, and appliances. They have been designed to prevent drinking water contamination and prevent misuse, waste, undue consumption, and erroneous measurement of water supplied by a water undertaker.
Innovation is a watchword for the UK water sector as it grapples with multiple challenges, including those on the clean water network. In maintaining some of the highest water quality standards in the world via some of its oldest networks, it is essential that all new equipment meets agreed standards when it enters the UK market, to ensure public health and to create a level playing field for manufacturers and suppliers.
For many years, consultants and other specifiers of water equipment - including architects, developers, and designers of electrical & mechanical systems - have stated that fittings and components must be approved by WRAS – the Water Regulations Approval Scheme. WRAS approval was routinely stated in project specifications and thought to demonstrate compliance of network components with water regulations.
It now needs to be recognised that WRAS is, and has always been, a voluntary scheme and WRAS approval is not necessary for products to comply. The minimum legal requirement for products and components coming into contact with clean water supplies is compliance with Regulation 4(1)(a) and (b) from the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.
Regulation 4(1)(a) “requires all water fittings supplied, or to be supplied, with water by a water undertaker to be of an appropriate quality and standard”, and Regulation 4(1)(b) says equipment must be suitable for the circumstances in which it is used.
In addition, Regulation 4(2) provides options to for companies to demonstrate compliance of their equipment. These are:
Conforming to a specification approved by the regulator
Conforming to an appropriate British Standard
Conforming to some other national specification which provides an equivalent level of protection and performance.
There are currently three approval schemes operating in the UK for Reg 4 compliance in relation to water fittings and components, of which WRAS is only one. The other two are NSFreg4 and the Kiwa UK Regulation 4 Product Approval Scheme (KUKreg4).
Like many manufacturers, Aquacheck Engineering uses KUKreg4, which is a robust process for demonstrating full compliance with the UK Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 England & Wales, 2009 Northern Ireland and 2014 Byelaws Scotland. Kiwa certification is widely accepted by water utilities, and in experience has much more visibility and acceptance than WRAS approval.
The tests on Engineering products meet the requirements of Reg 4, and are performed at Kiwa’s testing and calibration laboratories, which are UKAS accredited to ISO17025. Certificates are issued through a system complying with ISO17065, which is also UKAS accredited.
Given the current regulatory requirements, the insistence on WRAS approval for water equipment from some consultants and specifiers is not only out of step, it also r
The hospitality sector has made a call for clarity from UK water companies around their requirements for the disposal of fat, oil and grease (FOG). A need for the progression of national standards on grease management equipment was also highlighted at the European FOG Summit 2022, which brought the water and hospitality sectors together in Liverpool, UK, last month.
Equipment manufacturers and specialists in circular and renewable fuels also joined the conversation over three interactive panel sessions, with the aim of developing collaborative and sustainable solutions to keep sewer networks clear of FOG.
On the opening panel, Jennie Smith, director of building maintenance at Mitchells & Butlers, explained how the pub and restaurant operator has undertaken its own trials of grease management equipment due to the lack of an industry standard to guide investment in new systems. The business, which operates more than 1,600 venues across the UK, took action after it was prosecuted in 2021 for failing to prevent FOG entering the sewers at one of its pubs in Oxfordshire, dating back to 2017.
Smith said: “We had some grease removal units in our estate, but we weren’t installing them proactively, we were using them reactively when we had a problem.
“So, off the back of prosecution, we received quick approval to spend £7million putting grease removal units across our entire estate. We found there is no standard, no real transparency about what those machines do and how they work.
“Making a decision on how to invest this huge amount of money, I needed certainty this product will work and will be compliant. We couldn’t get that, so we did our own trial.”
Smith explained how the operator trialled a range of equipment from different manufacturers and is now moving forward with the roll-out.
Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, said: “As a national organisation, we want to share with our members best practice, but it is difficult when water company requirements are different in every region. It’s a tough time for our members but they are looking for solutions and it’s our job to make sure they make the right choices.”
Sarah Taylor, head of facilities at pub operator Marston's, talked through benefits of FOG management from a corporate standpoint: “FOG is very important for us to control. The more callouts we have for drainage issues, the more times we need to send someone to service the unit.
“That puts vans on the road emitting CO2, so it controls that as well, which we want as everyone is striving towards net zero and carbon neutrality. There is also a nice revenue stream from recycling used cooking oil.”
The next panel focused on cross-sector collaboration. The role of water retailers and more targeted used of localised data were among discussion points.
Martin Needham, head of commercial at Everflow Water, said water retailers have a key role to play in helping wholesalers target commercial businesses.
“We are the conduit between wholesaler and end user,” he said. “We can support the wholesaler with making sure we’re finding the problem area and targeting the hospitality sector. We hold that relationship, so we have got to play a part.”
Ben Hatfield-Wright, FOG programme manager at Anglian Water said unity with cross-sector stakeholders can energise the circular economy and. He said: “FOG is a massive issue for the water sector. We’re under tremendous pressure with reactive workloads, pollutions and flooding.
“I want FSEs [food service establishments] to come along on the journey with us and benefit from the circular economy. That’s the secret to moving tens of thousands of FSEs very quickly to doing the right thing and solving this problem.”
The final session of the day explored the potential of FOG as a resource, net zero and the circular economy.
Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Transport Fuel Association, said: “Our members really want the yellow and brown grease.
“There is not enough of it around for future transport needs. It will continue to be more and more important. It’s about getting the volumes of this material together, with a hub and spoke model, then getting it to our members to produce renewable fuel.”
The sixth British Water Data Conference, which took place on 3 November 2022, kicked off with a warning from keynote speaker Oliver on the “dangers and opportunities” around digital transformation.
The event took place at the Royal College of Pathology in London, but the body of water infrastructure was the one under examination on this occasion, not least, the health of the instrumentation monitoring some 375,000 combined sewage and stormwater overflows (CSOs) in the UK wastewater network.
“A lot of that data we know is false,” Grievson said, “because of the quality of what we’re doing with instrumentation.” He also reflected on the “sheer volume of data about the hit the water industry” as new instrumentation comes online in the next few years, and the challenge to the people tasked with making sense of it.
The conference gave delegates the opportunity to hear updates from a number of winners of Ofwat’s innovation competitions first hand. The projects led by Yorkshire Water, Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water, South West Water and United Utilities are funded by the £200 million Innovation Fund set up by the regulator to help grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate.
First up was Yorkshire Water’s Blockage Predictor Project set up to identify sites at risk of pollution. With sensors deployed across the utility’s CSO asset base, Heather Sheffield, the utility’s integrated planning & central control manager (wastewater), said 24% more blockages had been found and 65% were detected earlier than previously.
Speaking of the value of finding the right partners to collaborate with, in this instance German technology company Siemens, she said, “One of the challenges we have is that concept, culturally, that we can do everything ourselves – and we just can’t. This partnership has helped accelerate some of this thinking and the implementation of AI [artificial intelligence] across our asset base to help us manage service risk.”
Next was Anglian Water’s £8 million Safe Smart Systems Project (SSSP), which involves 26 partners, and focuses on the first steps to achieve autonomous control of UK water systems. Presenter George , consultant business architect/analyst at US engineering company Jacobs, explained that digital solutions need to be scalable and adoptable by other water utilities.
“Defining the common language” is one of the most important things in the SSSP project, he said, promising that an information management framework (IMF) was an output of the project that would be “shareable with everyone”.
also spoke of the challenges of getting data from operatives in the field who are sometimes working under the most difficult circumstances, at night and in bad weather: “People are one of our most important sensors.” he said.
His thoughts on the importance of people were echoed by South West Water data scientist James-Pascal Mercer, who is involved in another Ofwat funded project examining the effect of tourism on area-level water demand in Devon and Cornwall and how it can be used to make predictions.
After sharing results showing greater correlation of visitor numbers and demand in coastal areas, he said, “The operators already knew intuitively what the data revealed from their years of experience. We wanted to verify it.”
Gigi -Edwards, founder and co-chair of the Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN) work group for digital twins, said that setting best practice on these advanced digital tools is an important next step. Building on the theme of a shared language, she proposed that everyone adopt a common definition of a digital twin as: “A dynamic digital representation of real-world entities and their behaviours using models with static and dynamic data that enable insights and interactions to drive actionable and improved outcomes.”
The meaning of open data given consideration by a number of speakers, with Adam Cartwright, head of IoT applications at Siemens asking, “Data open to who? Interoperability is more important than openness. The public don’t need to know the efficiency of a pump, they need to know the outcome.”
Thanking delegates at the end of the packed day, Tracy Britton, chair of British Water’s Data & Analytics Focus Group, and smart water solutions director at Jacobs, came back to the theme of collaboration: “We have to get better at not just talking about collaboration, but enabling it,” she said, highlighting the Ofwat projects and the need to take them out of silos and “bring everything together”.
The event was sponsored by , an Autodesk company, which provides digital software for water professionals.
An industry-verified white paper validating the oxygen transfer efficiency of a market leading, innovative, gas infusion technology for water and wastewater treatment has been released.
The trademarked Dissolved Gas Infusion (DGI) technology has been developed by Fuel Tech Inc., a US engineering company, to provide a highly efficient alternative to existing aeration technologies for use in utility and industrial applications. Validation testing shows DGI delivers greater than 99% transfer of oxygen when applied to a treated body of water.
Two patent-pending technologies are used in combination to ensure optimal and precise gas delivery to target water and wastewater processes. These include a next generation, pressurized saturator for gas transfer of the oxygen solution to a slipstream of water; and an innovative nozzle delivery system to distribute oxygenated water that virtually eliminates gas loss from a targeted body of water.
The trademarked DGI technology was tested using validation methodologies published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and its Environmental & Waters Research Institute (EWRI). The results of the tests, which have been peer-reviewed and endorsed by industry experts, have determined that:
99+% of the oxygen supplied to the DGI system was delivered to a treatment reservoir as dissolved oxygen with no loss to the atmosphere, within described measurements of uncertainties.
The DGI channel injector effectively transferred the oxygen-infused water stream to reservoir water while located only twenty-four inches below the water surface.
There was no measurable loss of oxygen to the environment, no visible bubbles, and no delay in the availability of the supplied oxygen to react in the aqueous phase.
DGI combines market-leading oxygen transfer efficiency with precision accuracy to deliver an energy efficient and cost-effective water and wastewater treatment system. This cutting-edge technology achieves its 99+% gas transfer rate by pre-dissolving high purity gas in a separate pressurized slipstream.
The oxygen infused slipstream can reach up to 900mg/l oxygen concentration, which is then added to the main body of water and diluted to meet precise customer specifications. To guarantee high oxygen saturation rates, DGI is fitted with specially designed high-velocity channel injectors that help retain gas and optimize distribution.
DGI can work as a rapid response option or augment underperforming legacy technologies in a wide range of water and wastewater treatment applications across different sectors, including municipal utilities, agriculture, environment, pulp & paper, food & beverage, upstream oil & gas, and landfill management.
The technology can help address a range of issues, including regulatory compliance, water preservation, biological treatment, odor reduction, chemical replacement in wastewater treatment, and improving overall water quality for humans and the environment.
Fuel Tech president and chief executive officer Vincent Arnone said, “This validation study is a foundational component of