Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT July 2017

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 13 of 39

14 | JULY 2017 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Sludge ● Water and sewerage companies are reviewing their sludge treatment operations as a result of Ofwat's upstream reforms which will see a separate price control for PR19 around bioresources ● Information available on the volumes and quality of sludge produced will highlight opportunities for collaboration and new players in the market ● The reforms could assist the spread of new technologies, such as advanced anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis, as existing WASCs or new players could enjoy economies of scale for new installations The Works • CHALLENGE John Grady ParTner, regULaTion and MarkeTs shePherd and WedderbUrn "Where there's muck there's brass" is a wise Yorkshire expression. Muck and brass is now a focus for Ofwat, which is keen to apply market mechanisms in the water and sewerage sector. Now that the reforms to the water retail market have completed, with non-household customers able to choose their water and sewerage suppliers, Ofwat's focus will turn to their upstream reforms. A key element of this is bioresources, or sludge. So, what is the background to the reforms? The sludge that sewage treatment works produce sludge has historically been treated and disposed of by monopoly water and sewerage service providers, (WASCs). Ofwat's view is that there has been insufficient competitive pressure on this aspect of the water industry. Their reforms aim to put that right. • WIDE ANGLE The objective is that WASCs find more economic ways of dealing with sludge. As an example, a WASC should explore if it would be cheaper to pass its sludge to another entity to treat as opposed to building new treatment capacity. Ofwat's proposals start with the need to provide information - in very simple terms, Ofwat will require the WASCs to tell us all about their sludge. WASCs will have to publish data for each sewage treatment works, including quality and volume. Other practical information will be published, such as information about collection arrangements. The idea is that other market participants will review this data and then acquire sludge - or work in other ways with the WASCs. WASCs will have to record bids for sludge. Ofwat will then examine how the WASCs are seeking to reduce the costs of sludge treatment, for example by trading. The WASCs' record of bids will doubtless be an interesting area of focus. A number of WASCs have been very innovative in linking sludge and energy – one example is Wessex Water. Some suggest that there remains a real opportunity for power generation from sludge.

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