Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT April 2017

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 34 of 51

www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | APRIL 2017 | 35 In the know Digging deeper: resilience Building resilience requires water utilities to have a clear and systematic understanding of risk across their business For 'missing nail', read 'inoperable or inaccessible isolation valve' or 'blocked emergency outfall' and it is not difficult to construct scenarios where significant service disruption could arise because of similar omissions or oversights or to contemplate the difficulty of identifying the vulnerability of services to such risks. A clear and systematic understanding of risk When Ofwat launched its consultation on the outcomes framework for PR19, in November 2016, it set out its proposed resilience planning principles, the first of which was the requirement for a better and more M any of us are familiar with the proverb of the 'horseshoe nail' where a kingdom falls a„er a battle is lost because a vital message failed to arrive when a loose horse shoe caused the horse to fall and unseat the messenger – all for the want of a horseshoe nail. The proverb provides a useful illustration of one of the challenges which the issue of resilience presents to the water industry. A major failure followed from a seemingly trivial error of omission, the significance of which would not have been apparent to the farrier. Only with the benefit of hindsight, could the causal links between a series of events be seen clearly. Making the case for resilience BrendAn McAndrew WATeR IndusTRy ConsuLTAnT MWH integrated understanding of service risks. Ofwat indicated that companies should carry out resilience risk assessments that provide a clear and systematic understanding of service and systems risks across their entire business. It is difficult to argue with the principle, but putting it into practice raises many questions about the scope and level of detail required for such an undertaking. Deciding what constitutes 'a clear and systematic' understanding of risks across the 'entire business' is an important judgement which will be exercising the minds of many in the industry. The level of risk assessment which companies could reasonably be expected to undertake in this context must be informed by the expectations of their customers. Ofwat's resilience planning principles clearly articulate the need for customer engagement on the topic of resilience. Established investment planning processes, which companies have developed over successive price reviews, have evolved to capture and assess risks. These are identified by those who operate and maintain the assets, and by asset management and compliance teams who identify deteriorating performance and sub- threshold failures and trends. These processes are weighted towards asset systems which are subject to current failures or have demonstrable performance issues, without necessarily evaluating the vulnerability to other threats or pressures which have yet to materialise. The customer outcomes which companies currently deliver could be seen as evidence that services are resilient to a range of current shocks and stresses, but are not evidence that those services are inherently resilient to all potential shocks and stresses. Aligning risk assessment processes So what more could companies do to align their resilience risk assessment processes with the principles which Ofwat has set out? Deciding how far to go in systematically identifying resilience to wider threats across the whole business is a genuine dilemma for the industry, and one where appropriate benchmarks of best practice are difficult to identify. In the business planning context, seeking to identify the water or wastewater equivalent of every A relatively small failing could result in major consequences in some areas

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