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Water Industry Awards winners revealed

Northumbrian Water has scooped the prestigious Water Company of the Year Award at the Water Industry Awards, which were handed out last night (21 May) at a glittering ceremony in Birmingham.

More than 550 professionals from water companies, regulators, contractors and suppliers attended the celebratory evening at The Vox, Birmingham, to applaud the achievements of the award winners and finalists at the event, which was organised by WET News and Water & Wastewater Treatment.

A full list of the award winners and the winning projects are below.

Alliancing & Partnership Initiative of the Year: WINNER: MOSL and CGI  

MOSL and CGI were rewarded for the project to design, build and deploy the IT system that enabled the creation of England’s new non-household retail water market. This central system – known as CMOS – was required to give 1.2 million businesses the opportunity to switch water supplier for the first time; it needed to be complete in time for the opening of the shadow market in October 2016, and then run seamlessly when the market opened for real in April 2017. Holding data on 2.7 million water supply points and enabling 1,000 and 2,000 switches per week, the system’s creation and implementation was a truly collaborative effort which required input from all the water companies and many more stakeholders, with MOSL and CGI at the centre.

Customer Service Initiative of the Year: WINNER: Northumbrian Water - Utileyes

Northumbrian Water took home the Customer Service Initiative of the Year award for the development of Utileyes, a mobile app that allows customers to use the camera and video in their personal devices to show technicians at the water company problems at their property in real time. Launched in July 2017, the technology means that the water company can carry out a ‘virtual visit’ to a customer, giving them much more accurate information than a telephone conversation alone and removing the need for multiple visits to a property. Where it has been used so far it has enabled domestic customer leaks to be fixed in an average of 1.5 days, compared to 3 days where in-person visits only were used.  

Data Project of the Year: WINNER: APEM, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, NRW

APEM, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales won the Data Project of the Year award for their development of a multi-disciplinary impact assessment approach for the impact of water abstraction on shad populations. The project used field surveys, aerial and drone surveying, and digital and ecological modelling to gather data from multiple sources about this rare and protected species of fish and their eggs. The collected data successfully enabled the project partners to agree on new conditions for the water abstraction licence which would ensure there would be no adverse impact upon either the shad population or upon site integrity.

Engineering Project of the Year: WINNER: Greener Grangetown Water Sensitive Urban Design

The Engineering Project of the Year award went to the Greener Grangetown Water Sensitive Urban Design project, a collaboration between Cardiff Council, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Arup, ERH Communications and Civil Engineering Ltd. The project was a retrofit sustainable drainage scheme located in a dense urban area near Cardiff city centre. It used green infrastructure to future proof the drainage network, removing 4.4 hectares of impermeable area from the combined sewer whilst delivering improved ecology and biodiversity. The scheme comprised twelve residential streets, intercepting surface water runoff from roofs and highways and conveying it into a total of 108 individual rain gardens, which cleanse the water before discharging it into the River Taff.

Drainage & Flood Prevention Initiative of the Year (sponsored by BPDA) WINNER: Dwr Cymru Welsh Water - RainScape

The Drainage and Flood Prevention Initiative of the Year award went to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water for its RainScape project, which retrofitted sustainable drainage and surface water separation features into the urban environment of Llanelli. The project included green infrastructure and separate roof drainage separation at homes, local businesses and schools, as well as a new £1.3km stormwater tunnel through the centre of the town, all of which reduced the burden of surface water on the sewer system. The scheme has separated surface water from the sewers in 42 hectares of the town, reducing peak flow in the sewer by 6,000 litres per second and significantly improved flood resilience.

People Initiative of the Year (sponsored by Galliford Try): WINNER: Future Water Association

The People Initiative of the Year award went to the Future Water Association for its ‘Skills for the Future’ project, an initiative aimed at finding future creative thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs of the water sector among the younger generation. The organisation created a ‘Young Water Dragons’ competition for young people aged 11 to 16, in which teenagers with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects were encouraged to apply their minds to water challenges, with the help of mentoring from individuals from participating companies in the water industry. Teams from 15 schools took part in the inaugural version of the competition, with the final awards given out at the national Big Bang Fair; the programme is set to be extended in future years.

Sludge & Resource Recovery Initiative of the Year: WINNER: Isle Utilities and Aimen

The Sludge & Resource Recovery Initiative of the Year – a new category for the awards in 2018 – went to Isle Utilities and Aimen for their involvement in the INCOVER project. INCOVER (Innovative Eco-Technologies for Resource Recovery from Wastewater) is a three-year collaborative project, worth 7.2M Euros and funded by the European Commission, involving 18 partner organisations from seven countries in Europe. It is developing innovative and sustainable added-value technologies for recovering nitrogen, phosphorus, biomethane and energy as well as water for irrigation; the resources are being used to make useful products such as bio-plastics, citric acid, biofertilizer, biochar and activated carbon. The project due to complete in May 2019, has already demonstrated some impressive results, including a 70% nutrient recovery rate from wastewater using functionalised hybrid polymeric materials as sorbents.

Most Innovative New Technology of the Year: WINNER: EMS - CENTAUR

Environmental Monitoring Solutions Ltd (EMS) took home the coveted Most Innovative New Technology of the Year award for its CENTAUR system for local urban flood risk reduction. CENTAUR – which was developed with the help of 3M Euro EU funding beginning in September 2015 – is an intelligent autonomous system which uses an algorithm to analyse local level data and control the flow of water using smart flow control gates. The solution can be retrofitted into confined urban spaces in order to limit CSO spills, complement storage and SuDS solutions and reduce the need for expensive and space-consuming new tanks. A number of CENTAUR systems can be linked together to form intelligent wastewater networks.

Water Resilience Initiative of the Year: WINNER: South East Water

The first-ever award for Water Resilience Initiative of the Year went to South East Water for their ‘Together we know h2ow’ collaborative project to reduce the levels of metaldehyde in catchments. The water company took the unusual step of embedding expert staff from Natural England into its environmental team as catchment sensitive farming officers. The expanded team then carried out a comprehensive communications and consultation programme with farmers, aimed at changing behaviour on their use of slug pellets and other pesticides. The programme included face-to-face visits where team members conducted demonstrations of alternatives to metaldehyde. Since the project began it has engaged with 210 farms a year, helping to improve water quality at 51 out of 75 sample points where metaldehyde was previously found; it has reduced the need for built treatment solutions to remove the metaldehyde, which would have proved a much more expensive solution.

Energy & Carbon Initiative of the Year (sponsored by Asset International): WINNER: Severn Trent Water

The Energy & Carbon Initiative of the Year award was given to Severn Trent Water for its energy demand management work to deliver over 20MW of energy flexibility which balances supply and demand on the National Grid. Using innovative technology that enables equipment such as pumps, motors and blowers to automatically adjust their energy use second-by-second, the utility is providing vital flexibility to the UK’s energy system while delivering financial benefits and carbon savings. The project has included two types of demand response - Dynamic Firm Frequency Response and Short Term Operating Reserve; as well as the financial and environmental benefits, the data from the project has identified further energy efficiency opportunities for the utility across its asset base.

Most Innovative Use of Existing Technology: WINNER: Severn Trent and Malvern Panalytical

Severn Trent Water and Malvern Panalytical were the winners of the Most Innovative Use of an Existing Technology award for their development of the Online Zetasizer. This is a fully automated, on-line analyser system for the measurement of Zeta Potential, a parameter which helps optimise coagulation and clarification processes in treatment plants. The Online Zetasizer is now installed at four major surface water treatment works within Severn Trent, and is a commercially available product. It provides the capability to both optimise chemical usage in coagulation and clarification, and manage risk in these processes, allowing a more robust operation. The Zetasizer provides the ability to trend data and configure alarms and notifications remotely, and now has an automated control system to optimise the chemical dose based on the analyser’s findings.

Water Company of the Year (sponsored by NM Group): WINNER: Northumbrian Water

Northumbrian Water Group took home the prized Water Company of the Year award for its all-round excellence in the last twelve months. The north-east utility was recognised for its impressive record on customer service - it scored 88 out of 100 on Ofwat’s Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) last year, the highest of any water company; and for its fresh thinking on innovation, in particular its unique ‘Innovation Festival’ event which brought together water innovators to solve water industry challenges. Judges were also impressed by Northumbrian’s performance on minimising supply interruptions and its work on sustainable drainage. Its staff engagement also stands out, with the company having industry-leading satisfaction scores: staff surveys reveal that 84% of Northumbrian’s workforce say that they enjoy their job.

Water Contractor of the Year: WINNER: NM Group

NM Group scooped the Water Industry Contractor of the Year award on the back of an impressive financial and operational performance in the last year. The company, which provides services to the water industry as NMCNomenca and Nomenca, achieved a 40.1% increase in turnover in 2017 and a 45% boost in profitability over the same period. It is leading the way on modular offsite construction with its Skilled Assembly in a Factory Environment (SAFE) approach, and also earned praise for its innovative work on the Elan Valley Aqueduct Scheme for Severn Trent. The company’s training and development of young people, including apprentices, and its excellent health and safety record were also contributors to it walking off with the prize.

Health & Safety Initiative of the Year: JOINT WINNERS: Lanes Group and Affinity Water 

There were joint winners in the Health and Safety Initiative of the Year category, where the judges were unable to split two particularly strong entries. It was agreed to divide the spoils: Lanes Group were recognised with Health and Wellbeing Initiative of the Year, while Affinity Water received Safety Initiative of the Year.

Lanes Group’s winning initiative was the Wellbeing App, a novel approach to supporting the wellbeing of its workforce working as the wastewater network services maintenance partner for Thames Water. When field workers log on to their mobile device for the start of their shift, they are required to answer the question of how happy they feel. Staff answering the question with ‘unhappy’ or ‘very unhappy’ are then given the option of being contacted by professional wellbeing practitioner, who can offer either mental health support, or advocacy in sorting out work problems with management. The professional wellbeing practitioner is there to work with the employee on any problems they have, inside or outside work. In the large majority of cases the issues are not work-related.

Affinity Water’s winning entry was its development of Cable Strike Avoidance Tools, which guard against the safety risk of water workers accidentally cutting into electricity cables. The utility worked with tool specialists PF Cusack and JAFCO to develop two new tools for clamping and cutting pipework which are insulated against 10,000 volts, providing a last line of defence in the safety-critical situation of an electrical cable being incorrectly identified as a water service pipe. Affinity now has 500 sets of these new tools and they are going into production with JAFCO after receiving BS8020 approval.

A full report of the awards night will be available with the next issue of WWT and WET News.

Topic: Innovation
Tags: water companies , Awards

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