Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT September 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 5 of 47

6 | SEPTEMBER 2016 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Comment T he price that consumers pay on their water bill not only reflects the cost of treating and supplying our water and disposing of wastewater, but everything that the utility does as a company. Sometimes that might be a cause for complaint if things are being done inefficiently, but increasingly, there are opportunities for water com- panies to take part in non-core activities that can have a significantly beneficial effect on the bottom line, which in the end can only be good news for the customer. This issue of WWT provides some great examples of this in action. As some of the biggest energy users, there is great potential for water companies to get involved in demand response, and with technological progress allowing for instant control of assets by aggrega- tors within set parameters, the benefits Added extras from this can easily run into millions of pounds. Given this, and the fact that such schemes can run with little or no impact on normal operations, it seems a common sense decision for water utilities to climb on board. You can read more about water companies' work in this area in our Close-Up feature on page 21. Another profitable sideline for utili- ties, but one that is less well-travelled, is the provision of consultancy services to others, especially internationally. Expertise in the management of water is hard-won and takes years to develop, and if you have what others consider to be a world-leading operation then it can be profitable as well as intrinsically rewarding to share your secrets. Scot- tish Water has been doing this as part of Scotland's 'Hydro Nation' strategy, and in this month's 'Industry Leader' interview we hear from the Scottish Government's Water Industry Team Leader Jon Rathjen on its fortunes so far (p14). What is most remarkable is only a decade or so ago Scottish Water was considered a relatively poorly-per- forming utility, and so it is the story of transformation that is in some respects what other countries are keen to learn from, points out Rathjen. James brockett eDItor JamesBrockett@fav-house.com Twitter: @wwtmag Industry view sponsored by keith Hayward, sales and marketing manager, Hydro International Wastewater INDUSTRY standards have always been a double-edged sword for asset managers and engineers. O en tolerated as a regulatory burden, up-to-date standards – and alongside them greater equipment standardisation – could be used to sharpen the water industry toolbox. At a time when the water industry is coping with radical change, why should reviewing standards be a priority? Don't get me wrong - I'm not in the business of promoting unnecessary capital investment. As we move further into AMP6 and beyond, the focus for water companies will move towards sweating better performance out of existing assets. That will mean reviewing maintenance and service provision, improving condition monitoring and data Why We Must Dispense with Bog-Standard collection, as well as ensuring operating staff are best trained to get the most from the equipment they look a er. Engaging in radical new ways for the supply chain to understand and engage in whole-life asset risks and reward is a vital part of this water industry change process. It's a challenge that requires particular commitment and collaboration between Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, as well as support from regulators and industry associations. We know it's going to take time for mindsets and contracting frameworks to fully move away from capex-only models. In their favour, maintenance and optimisation programmes are fortunately much less constrained by 5-year budgeting cycles, and can evolve more quickly. So, what has this to do with standards? When it comes to getting the right balance of plant performance and risk, should the bar be set high or at the minimum? Do we want to drive up standards – or will we be tempted to confuse optimising an asset with turning the handle on outdated processes? At Hydro International, we are introducing new technologies for wastewater grit removal and this is a case in point; in the past settling for outdated standards has clearly been a false economy that has compromised plant efficiency. Now opportunities are being exploited to achieve better whole-plant performance. It can also be the case that standards and specifications vary unnecessarily, not only between water companies, but even within organisations themselves. Greater standardisation of equipment will not only bring in manufacturing and installation economies, but also contribute to more efficient service, maintenance and data collection in future. So, absolutely, the first choice should be to optimise the asset, but let's be sure to optimise standards fit for the future of our industry, rather than being tempted to settle for performance expectations that could be 30 years out of date. www.hydro-int.com Speaking of transformation, one area of the wastewater treatment landscape which is about to undergo a metamorphosis is sludge treatment, and deregulation by Ofwat to create a new sludge market should mean that the transportation of, and energy generation from, sludge will become a more than profitable activity for utilities in future. As in most activities it is only when you measure performance that improvement is possible, and with the current push for utilities to calculate the unit costs of their sludge processing, we should soon be able to compare and contrast the capa- bilities of the different water companies when it comes to dealing with the brown stuff. Whatever the nature of their cur- rent sludge operation, this transparency should allow them to start to improve ef- ficiency and to get to the point where the exploitation of sludge is bringing direct financial benefits back to the customer. In this month's Innovation Zone special, we look at the various technologies that might help them along this journey (p26). Water companies have always been multi-faceted businesses, but it does seem that once you scratch beneath the surface there are a surprising number of ways of extracting extra value from what they do.

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