Sharing knowledge to improve network pollution performance in the future

27 Jan 2021

With water companies targeting a reduction in pollution incidents as part of their common performance commitments, managing pollution from sewerage networks is a critical aspect of good network management.


The RPS ‘Pollution and Overflow Virtual Conference’, yesterday, was held to encourage deeper understanding of pollution history and how to improve network pollution performance in future; and how to support the drive for a healthier water environment.

RPS welcomed Wastewater Managers from water companies across the UK and Ireland. Following on from three previous successful face-to-face innovation Wastewater events, this is the first one which has been held virtually.

This event focused on three key areas:

  • Improving network pollution performance through our ‘Strategy to Operations’ approach
  • Overflows and EDM – managing water quality performance
  • Digital water

Steve Hogg, Water Consultancy Director at RPS said, “RPS has developed a Strategy to Operations approach that embraces new ways of working with advanced analytics and machine learning to get the most from water company pollution data. This is enabling us to work with our clients across the UK and Ireland to develop pragmatic solutions to their pollution challenges. We are delighted to host this important conference again.”


The pollution challenge

Pollution has multiple causes across our networks and understanding these is key to improving management of the sewer network and driving down pollution, with everyone including customers needing to ensure behaviours around interaction with sewerage networks can be challenged and changed.

In addition, climate change is leading to warmer winters and more intense rainfall in the summer which is causing strain on sewer networks and sewer overflow performance. Continual growth is also impacting issues in network capacity and a potential new source of pollution through increased loading as well as potential misconnections.

We are also seeing legislative changes as the Sewage, Inland Waters Bill works its way through parliament as well as the first new inland bathing water classification in 2020, the River Wharfe in Ilkley.

The upscaling of monitoring and smart networks is leading to a step change in proactive management of networks and companies need to adapt and develop this further to ensure that future environmental compliance is ensured, especially as the recent push for the ‘Overflow Task Force’ is encouraging companies to publish real time data from monitors in the public domain. Ensuring data quality, decision making and reporting are up to the challenge is important. 

Finally, it is essential that the skills challenge is addressed by the industry. The skills required to be proactive are changing and the industry must continue to evolve and upskill individuals to make the most of the technological advances.

If you’d like more information on how RPS are supporting our clients to address their pollution challenges, please contact James Hale on

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