Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT October 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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6 | OCTOBER 2016 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Comment W hen compared to other regulatory reforms in the water industry, steps to encourage water trading – allowing water companies to sell clean water to each other - is one of the simplest to understand in terms of its necessity. As a major report from Water UK has made clear this month (see feature, p.23) climate change means that the threat of severe drought is increasing and is a fairly likely scenario when you take a long-term view over the next 50 years. It would only take two dry winters and the spectre of a costly and testing drought would be looming with the approach of a third. While there are many steps that ought to form part of a national drought resilience plan, the transfer of water from wet areas such as Wales and the In the trade north east of England, to drier ones such as the south and east, would appear to be a sensible capability to build in. However, as delegates learned at WWT's recent Integrated Water Resource Management Conference (p10) there are still multiple barriers to be overcome before this can become a reality, not least the funding and financing of key pipeline connections linking up different water company regions across the country. Who pays for these essential connections remains an issue. The estimated cost of the most important six connections is £1.5BN. While this may sound expensive – a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking serious money – this should not be an insurmountable figure in the realm of major infrastructure projects. One might be tempted to compare it to the Thames Tideway Tunnel: the cost of the super sewer, £4.2BN, was borne by Thames Water customers. It may well be considered unfair for customers of any one water company to bear the cost of the connecting water mains and a more national approach may be required, yet there is still much in the financing and James brockett eDItor JamesBrockett@fav-house.com Twitter: @wwtmag Industry view sponsored by mark esling business Development Director saint-Gobain Pam Uk Resilience. We're hearing more and more about this subject in the water and wastewater sector. It has become a priority issue, and this is hardly surprising when one considers the pressure that climate change and population growth are exerting. Already the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has published 'Enabling Resilience in the Water Sector' – its roadmap to enhancing its policy framework; The Environment Agency has its analysis of the long-term resilience of water supplies in England; Ofwat is evolving its regulatory framework in line with its new duty to further the long-term resilience of the water sector; and Water UK is establishing a Water and Wastewater Resilience Action Group. Ofwat's Resilience Task and Finish Group has defined resilience as follows: Resilience must be built into pipelines "Resilience is the ability to cope with, and recover from, disruption, and anticipate trends and variability in order to maintain services for people and protect the natural environment now and in the future." Clearly, the sector must adapt to ensure it can meet the country's future water needs, and we in the water and sewer pipelines business must play our part in helping clients and their supply chains to achieve this. So how can pipelines help to build resilience? Of course there is the issue of longevity: specifying ductile iron with a 120-year lifespan wins out over other shorter-lasting materials. And the resilience of coated ductile iron compared to previously used grey iron means the thicker walls of the earlier material are no longer required. Specifiers looking to boost resilience of pipelines should of course be looking for the best quality pipes and fittings: those manufactured in accordance with the latest version of BS EN 545 and BS EN 598 with each pipe separately tested for pressure and wall thickness continuity along its entire length. Water efficiency is fundamental to the long-term resilience of water supplies and the environment, and is set to become increasingly important in the future. Minimising leakage has a key role to play in the improvement of water efficiency, and is another reason why the quality of pipelines will be fundamental to securing long-term resilience. Also, an important part of boosting pipeline resilience is the issue of early collaboration at the design stage in order to create a truly robust solution. Better collaboration means a better understanding of risk through data sharing. With one of the list of recommendations from Ofwat's Resilience Task and Finish Group being 'improve the understanding of risk and failure' this certainly is a desired outcome. Building resilience into pipeline networks is only part of the bigger picture of building resilience into the whole of the water and wastewater sector. However, it certainly is an important part of this bigger picture, and one we are already working with our supply chain partners and clients to achieve. delivery model of that project – which has used an independent company and direct procurement – which could be learned from when it comes to building our national drought resilience. A large capex project like the pipelines proposed might seem to go against the grain of the current regulatory environment for the industry, which stresses opex solutions, the sweating of existing assets and customer affordability. The pipeline routes would no doubt be challenging in terms of planning and the assets themselves may not be used on a very frequent basis. Yet as the Water UK report makes clear, the costs of a severe drought to the economy and populace would swi—ly dwarf the project cost. Moreover, the use of other tools in the box when it comes to resilience, such as demand management and the building of new reservoirs, are not alternatives but must all be deployed together if we are to tackle the huge challenge we may run up against in future water shortage scenarios. Just as one should fix the roof when the sun is shining, the time to protect against drought is years in advance when the rain is falling.

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