Sludge

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Yorkshire Water, with the University of York, has begun work on a research hub to improve efficiency of wastewater treatment and extract value from sludge processing while working towards its 2030 net zero carbon ambitions
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Yorkshire Water has announced three smart wastewater network pilots aimed at improving understanding of assets as well as reducing sewer flooding and pollution.
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Thames Water has set out plans to go beyond carbon net-zero goals with an ambition to enter carbon neutrality by 2040. The routemap highlights wastewater treatment as the area most in need of attention, but with opportunities included.
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The water sector must find ways to cut the emissions from its most energy intensive activity - wastewater treatment. Industry experts discussed how this could be done and what challenges stand in the way of creating a circular economy to benefit from what has previously been considered waste.
Analysis
Meeting environmental targets and cutting the use of combined sewer overflows have been outlined as key priorities for Ofwat to incentivise in the next price review. Defra has instructed the regulator to make environmental planning and pollution reduction top objectives, in its draft strategic policy statement (SPS) for PR24 and beyond.
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Utility Week hears initial thoughts from the water sector on the first draft of Defra’s strategic policy statement to Ofwat, with commentators warning that it lacks the detail required to trigger the investment needed at PR24 if the government is serious about tackling river pollution and decarbonisation.
Analysis

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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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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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Severn Trent is establishing innovation hubs globally to find solutions for common water sector problems from around the world, with an initial focus on reducing carbon emissions and lowering leakage rates. The first hub has been set up in Scandinavia with more to follow in Europe, Asia, North and South America as well as Australia and New Zealand
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Thirteen projects exploring common challenges across the water sector have been selected by members of UKWIR for research during 2022/23. The organisation stressed that it wants to increase the "diversity of thought" in tackling shared challenges.
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Water sector leaders have expressed concern that the next price control will represent an evolution of the current regulatory regime as opposed to the step change needed to ensure resilience against climate change. Senior industry figures have told Utility Week the regulatory system is “crying out for wholesale reform” to embed a genuinely long-term vision. However, there is scepticism as to whether this can be achieved before 2025 and growing fears that PR24 will be a "missed opportunity".
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South East Water has invested £25 million to expand its flagship water treatment plant in Berkshire to meet the supply needs of the growing community. The site features a rapid gravity filter unit and a granular activated carbon tank. The project means the plant can process 68 million litres of water daily, up from 45 million.
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The strategic policy statement to Ofwat, which sets out the government's priorities for the next price review in 2024, has been laid before Parliament. The document gives top priority to the environment, emphasising the need to protect and enhance waterways by reducing the impacts of discharges from combined sewer overflows and other forms of pollution.
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The strategic policy statement (SPS) informing Ofwat of the government's priorities for the water sector for PR24 and beyond will be formally laid out in parliament today (2 February). It is expected to reinforce the message in the draft SPS that protecting and enhancing the water environment must be central to the price review
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Anglian Water has unveiled plans for its largest ever single-year investment for the third year of AMP7, which will see the company spend £680 million, including large sums preparing the region for population growth and the effects of climate. To enable this investment, annual water bills will rise 5% to £454.
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Ofwat has named the judging panels for its two innovation fund competitions - Catalyst and Transform - which will awards grants of up to £10 million to develop solutions to shared problems in the water sector to benefit customers and the environment.
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After a year-long investigation, the Environmental Audit Committee's report into river health in England has urged regulators to take a firmer position on pollution incidents, saying Ofwat should consider limiting bonuses to water company executives for failing to tackle the problem. The committee’s chair Philip Dunne spoke to Utility Week about the report, which also called for licence conditions to be revised to require year-on-year reductions in pollution towards a target of zero serious incidents by 2030.
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Ofwat has set out its expectations for water companies to align their decarbonisation strategies with UK government targets that focus on both operational and embedded emissions. The regulator said the next price review will feature carbon reduction performance commitments.
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