Supporting the water industry with analytical services

Atkins, a multi-national consultancy firm have been appointed by Thames Water and Severn Trent Water to provide a comprehensive consultancy service including, water quality analysis. Our Bedford laboratory have been working closely with Atkins on this project, providing consultancy advice and analytical solutions to help ensure water companies are providing clean and safe water to their customers. 

The challenge

Thames Water and Severn Trent Water, together provide clean water solutions to almost 20 million customers, from the Midlands and Wales to London and the Thames Valley. OFWAT, the water regulator for England and Wales, is working hard to ensure water resource supplies are resilient against droughts. Climate change, population growth, societal expectations and increasing environmental aspirations are all making this more challenging.

In response to this challenge, they have identified the potential for water companies to jointly deliver strategic water resources on behalf of customers, while also protecting the environment.

Our solution

Working in partnership with Atkins, we coordinated collection and delivery of all sample media. Water samples were collected from several rivers, reservoirs, and canals across the UK, by taking samples from a range of catchments helps to identify and pinpoint the presence of specific contaminants.

Our state-of-the-art laboratory in Bedford, provided comprehensive analysis of various parameters, including priority pollutants and emerging substances. Both are a growing concern due to their toxicity potential to aquatic organisms and the effect they can have on human health.

Over the last 12 months, we received over 1,000 samples for analysis, and have completed over 201,000 individual tests. The type of analysis ranged from simple inorganics, such as metals, to very complex trace organics, such as sub nanogram levels in PFAS.



After successfully completing and submitting results, we have extended our contract with Atkins until the end of 2022. We aim to continue providing high-level consultancy, particularly on emerging substances. We strive to push the boundaries for limits of detection and types of analysis, which will include the ‘forever chemicals’ such as PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl-and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

We can carry out analysis of PFAS chemicals in line with the European Drinking Water Directive list of 20 and the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate list of 47, now extended to include 51 targeted PFAS chemicals as 0.1ng/L.

Our quality and experience

RPS has been accredited for a range of PFAS analysis since 2005 and has years of expertise in analysing chemicals at ultra-low levels. This includes 12 years producing data analysis for the UK Chemical Investigation Programme, as well as years of successful participation in external Performance Testing in schemes such as AQS, Aquacheck and Quasimeme. 



What our clients say:

Helen Withers, Practice Manager at Atkins had this to say about our efforts on this project: 

“We have been working closely with RPS’ Bedford laboratory for a comprehensive and complex water quality analysis service. Analytical suites have been created to provide cutting edge scientific analysis with cost effective solutions for multiple stakeholders and projects.

These projects have been geospatially and logistically challenging, but with excellent communication and agility, RPS have been a great support and made tough challenges possible, their technical excellence has been a benefit for our projects, and ultimately for our clients.”

Project statistics

Number of samples received for analysis
Total number of tests completed
Duration of this project in months
Expert Extractors and Analysts involved in this project

“With its state-of-the-art equipment and extensive experience, the RPS Bedford laboratory has been supporting the UK water industry for over 10 years. We continue to invest in our people and our facilities to ensure we consistently provide our clients with quality analysis. We remain at the forefront of trace analysis at ultra-low levels including the forever chemicals.”

Jonathan Tucker, Divisional Director, RPS

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Marco Lattughi

Operational Director - Analytical Services T: +44 (0) 1462 480 400 Email
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Bedford | UK

Jonathan Tucker

Divisional Director – Laboratories and Occupational Health T: +44 (0) 20 7280 3240 Email
London - New Bridge Street | UK

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