On Thursday 29th June, leading environmental and engineering consultancy RPS, hosted a one day conference engaging senior wastewater managers from across the water industry and representatives from UK water companies. To meet the challenges of climate change and a growing population, the industry needs to continue to make the most of its capital and operational investment. For sewer networks to be fit for the 21st Century and rid the country of the misery of flooding from sewers and pollution of the environment, it will be necessary to continue to develop integrated strategies that make the most of the data and funding available. Making better use of the information that we have is key along with developing a holistic understanding of the sewerage networks, which will enable the industry to improve interaction with its customers.
RPS held a one-day conference at Birmingham’s Austin Court on Thursday 29th June looking at the key challenges facing the water industry and giving an opportunity for free-flowing discussion on the future of the UK’s sewer networks. As our climate changes and populations increase, our sewerage systems are coming under increasing pressure to accommodate greater and more intense flow volumes, whilst dealing with an ever-aging network of pipes and pumping stations that require continual maintenance or replacement.
It is not widely known outside the world of water companies that the UK Water Industry deploys sophisticated software, skilled engineers and technicians and advanced technologies in order to keep our sewerage systems operating effectively.
The delegates took part in interactive and engaging workshops facilitated by RPS experts to debate a variety of key topics. They were unanimous in the view that if we are to overcome the challenges of climate change and population growth, whilst meeting the expectations of water regulator, Ofwat to transform customer service, then we need to continue to invest in improving the understanding of network performance through a balance of modelling, asset management and intelligently targeted monitoring technology. This will enable us to intervene in sewerage failures before flooding and pollution and occurs. One theme of the day was that we are “data rich but information poor” and there was a consensus that we should make better use of asset data we have and share it better, particularly with customers. Collaboration and partnership was another theme with delegates calling for a more integrated approach to delivery from water companies, regulators, councils and highway authorities.
The key message from the seminar was that if water companies invest wisely in installing monitoring technology, guided by modelling and asset management approaches to install them at the optimum points of the network, and invest in the skills to analyse the data received, then they will reap rewards in AMP7, not only in terms of optimised investment, but transforming customer service and business reputation. This approach should be a core component of the PR19 planning process.