Abstraction

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Ofwat has named David Black as its permanent chief executive after a year in the position in an interim capacity. Black oversaw the PR19 price review, dubbed the toughest the sector has seen, and has been instrumental in tightening financial resilience of water companies.
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Industry experts have called for the prioritisation of work to better understand and remove surface water without it entering overburdened sewers as a key challenge of climate change resilience. The chief executive of Thames and Northumbrian Water agree that the sector needs to work harder, and collaborate further on managing surface water.
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Consumer research shows water companies are increasingly being seen as the primary culprits when it comes to river pollution, yet public awareness of the work they are doing to mitigate these impacts is actually dropping. Ruth Williams asks why the water sector has struggled to make its voice heard.
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Ofwat has confirmed it will continue to provide ring-fenced funding for further development of four strategic regional water resource projects in England following their assessment by the Regulators Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID). The regulator has issued its final decisions for the accelerated gate two of RAPID’s four gate development process for large-scale strategic schemes to provide resilient water supplies to drier parts of the country.
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The water sector has called for reforms to regulation to enable it to meet the challenges of supplying water in the face of climate change, population growth and aging infrastructure. Water UK chief executive Christine McGourty said: “Without urgent action there is a risk future generations will simply not have enough of this precious resource to go around.”
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The government has declared its support for further investment in sewerage systems in England and Wales in its response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s damning report on water quality in rivers. However, the committee's recommendations to address pollution from agriculture and homebuilding, which both play a significant role in preventing rivers from achieving good ecological status, were not accepted.
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Anglian and Severn Trent will help farmers across their regions to invest in regenerative farming practices that protect and enhance rivers with match funding, tree planting and access to green finance. The scheme is part of the two companies' Get River Fit commitments announced earlier this year
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Despite many people saying they are aware of the impact their household water habits can have on the environment, far fewer understand the specific effects and fewer still have modified their behaviour to benefit the environment. That is according to research by CCW that has coincided with the launch of Water's Worth Saving campaign coordinated by Water UK.
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The second piece of collaborative work from Ofwat and CCW has revealed billpayer priorities that the regulator said would inform outcome delivery incentives for the 2024 price review. Consumers were most concerned about issues that impact them directly, and wider factors that will affect them sooner rather than further in the future.
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Affinity Water has begun a television, radio and social media campaign to inform its customers of the work it does to find and fix leaks ahead of ramping up its water efficiency messaging. The company said its research had shown leakage rates were putting customers off from saving water.
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Water neutrality may be back in vogue after a quiet decade but planning, development and building regulations are slowing progress. This, one efficiency expert argued, should not be the responsibility of the water sector which does not have the clout to dictate to developers.
Analysis
Scottish Water has partnered with universities across Scotland to form a hydro research and innovation hub to address pressing challenges facing the water sector and communities. Areas of focus will include driving down embedded and process emissions, enhancing the natural world and embracing the circular economy.
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Ofwat has named 13 projects that will be awarded a share of £5.2 million from its innovation fund for the second year of its Water Breakthrough Challenge. The projects will receive between £155,000 and £760,000 each to develop collaborative cross-sector innovations that improve water quality, reduce pollution and raise customer service levels as part of the competition's Catalyst Stream.
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