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Delivering Resources

Mouchel utilities managing director Piers Clark explains how the companies can deliver their resource management plans effectively, and offers his top innovation tips for an efficient industry.

A water company produces a Water Resource Management Plan (WRMP) to demonstrate that it can deliver a sustainable provision of water supplies to customers without damaging the environment.

The plan must determine the requirements of security of supply for customers by, for example including contingency plans for both drought periods (to prevent over-abstraction) and flood periods (how to store/redirect flood waters). Ideally the transfer and share of resources between water companies should be investigated, particularly in times of drought.

To reverse the increase in water usage, water companies need to investigate demand management and leakage reduction steps. Water companies can improve the quality and accuracy of demand forecasts by using micro-component forecasting techniques and working with bodies such as local authorities to develop realistic projections.

A compelling business case should be developed for new water resources to take into account climate change and sustainability issues; this will require close cooperation with the Environment Agency to balance supply and demand with pressures on the environment, perhaps by introducing incentives for good performance.

The WRMP needs to comply with water company targets for carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Investment in schemes should be justified on the basis of cost-benefit.

Much of this work will feed into the next five year workload from 2010 (AMP5). These are my top five tips for driving the industry forward to 2015:

1. Understand the effects of climate change

Further investment in weather forecasting and climate change will be needed on a regional/local level to assist with issues, such as sewer overflow-related flooding.

2. Invest in new technology

Identify (technology) solutions which promote water and energy efficiency, for example, reducing the energy demand of desalination using novel methods such as clathrate desalination or membrane technology.

3. Find & reduce the leaks

There should be further investment in leakage detection technology to ensure more efficient location of water main leaks and “customer-side” (ie the pipe from the boundary to the house) leaks. This combined with enhanced network operation through improved pressure control management will minimise leaks and avoid bursts, thereby conserving water resources.

4. Smart irrigation

Promote increased usage of smart irrigation practices in farming, such as drip/trickle irrigation, grey water reuse and rainfall harvesting. This could be done by forming farmers’ cooperatives to establish the localised management of water for irrigation.

5. Public Awareness

Increase public awareness about the importance of water conservation through schools and libraries to encourage simple water saving measures such as the watering of domestic (and commercial) gardens in the evening or early morning to reduce evaporation losses.

Technical terminology explained

Clathrate desalination occurs when hydrocarbon gases such as ethane and methane come into contact with water at the right temperature and pressure. The water forms a crystal lattice that is similar to ice. The gas becomes trapped in this crystal lattice, called clathrate, making the crystal buoyant and causing it to float like ice. Once the clathrate is harvested and the correct combination of temperature and pressure is removed, the gas and water part ways, leaving fresh water and hydrocarbon gas.

Drip/ trickle irrigation minimises the use of water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters.

“The plan must determine the requirements of security of supply for customers by including contingency plans for drought and floods”

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