Water networks

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An environmental group has threatened legal action against environment minister Rebecca Pow’s department for not dealing comprehensively with combined sewer overflows.
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Water companies from across the UK as well as supply partners, NGOs and academic groups have been awarded funding for 11 projects from the Ofwat Innovation Fund to tackle shared problems faced by the sector. See the full list as well as the thoughts of Ofwat's John Russell.
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Installing one million smart water meters each year could cut the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 0.5 per cent over the next 15 years. The impact of smart water meters on reducing the UK’s carbon emissions has been calculated in a new report by Waterwise and Arqiva that suggests a nationwide rollout would save one billion litres of water daily.
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Thames Water is the first company in the country to undertake a mass rollout of smart water meters and has reached half a million installations. The firm said the programme has led to a reduction in leakage and greater consumer engagement with water efficiency.
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An online mapping tool for measuring natural assets has been launched by a company co-founded by the former chair of the Natural Capital Committee, Dieter Helm. The developers said the tool gauges the benefits assets can provide in terms of carbon sequestration and storage, flood risk reduction, biodiversity and social wellbeing and will help inform discussions around the PR19 price review for water companies.
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Northumbrian Water has joined the UN-backed Race to Zero global campaign as it announced plans to achieve net zero carbon by 2027 - three years earlier than the industry-wide commitment. However, the target excludes process emissions, which make up half of the company's total greenhouse gases. 
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The public remain largely unaware of the responsibilities water companies and other stakeholders have to conserve the natural world, or of the work the sector undertakes. Most agreed environmental concerns should be more important than lowering bills or making services accessible.
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The judging panel for the main competition within Ofwat's innovation fund has been named with eight people chosen from industry, academia, R&D and beyond the water sector. The competition is designed to encourage innovative ideas, collaboration and sharing of risk to develop projects.
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Anglian Water has set out a twin-track approach to reaching net-zero emissions by 2030, including a “stretch” pathway that shows what could be achieved with additional funding and policy levers.
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The Environment Agency has proposed allowing water companies up to 25 years to deliver on environmental programmes and extending the timeframe for the Water Industry National Environmental Programme (WINEP) from five to ten years.
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A trial by Yorkshire, Siemens and Artesia has trained artificial intelligence to learn to distinguish the sound of a leak on Yorkshire's network from other background noises. This 60 per cent improvement lets the company focus its activities on attending and repairing true leaks.
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An Environment Agency report called for further research into how low quality rivers socially impact communities living closest to them. The urban environment report noted pollutants to waterways from surface run-off that would worsen as climate change becomes more extreme.
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Ofwat’s final decision on extra investment in green recovery schemes on top of the PR19 packages has seen the total fall from £850 million in May’s draft announcement to £793 million today. This is as a result of Thames Water – one of the five companies to submit green recovery plans – reducing the size of its smart metering programme after the regulator cast doubt on its deliverability.
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Yorkshire has set its targets for reaching net zero by 2030 including electrifying all cars and vans as well as rolling out zero-emission tankers and trucks. Partnerships will be key to the plans and cutting carbon will be made central to every business decision.
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More water companies than ever before have achieved the Environment Agency's highest standard for environmental performance and serious pollution incidents have fallen year-on-year. However, the EA says it still has "serious cause for concern" for two companies and wants accelerated efforts to reach zero pollution events.
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Water UK's director of policy Stuart Colville tells Utility Week the government needs to match the water sector's ambition to meet demand management goals and to improve sewerage systems
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