Wastewater resilience the ‘ugly sister’ of water supply

The resilience of the wastewater sector in the UK is treated as the “ugly sister” of water supply part of the industry.

Speaking at Utility Week Congress in Birmingham, Defra director for floods and water directorate Sarah Hendry said the majority of the focus from the sector has been placed on water supply resilience.

She said: “It does feel a little bit like the ugly sister and actually we need to make sure there is just as much focus a there is on the water supply business.”

Hendry told delegates more information needs to be gathered before work can be done to boost the long term resilience of the wastewater sector.

“We don’t really have yet a firm evidence base on which we could start to plant the types of investment and galvanise the right people around the table,” she said. “Compared to water supply there is quite a gap that needs to be made up.”

Hendry praised the work being done by the sector on developing and improving the resilience of the UK’s water supply for the long term by partnership working. She stated a similar approach should be adopted for wastewater and that the sector needs to show “leadership”.

“We expect companies to take a long term perspective and have plans in place even though this is not specifically mandated. Plus Ofwat is looking at how to encourage this in PR19.

“Understanding future needs is complex as so many actions contribute to problem and to solutions, and it is a very localised issue.”