At Yorkshire Water 'The drought looms pretty large,' acknowledges capital programme delivery manager John Spain.
Four years on, the company's water supply system is in a far better position to cope with a repetition of that situation thanks to several hundred millions invested in new pipelines and the renewal of leaking mains. It has also put a huge effort into rebuilding relations with its 4.5M customers after the embarrassments of the drought with its standpipes and emergency tanker supplies.
Service to customers is now top of Yorkshire Water's strategic objectives. Backing up the efforts of those people directly facing the customers, the company has a large public relations department working with local communities on its branded projects: Humbercare, Hull sewerage project; Coastcare, new treatment for places such as Scarborough, Whitby, Filey and Robin Hood's Bay; Rivercare, inland sewage treatment; and Towncare, urban mains and sewer reconstruction.
And when in February last year the company was in the curious position of losing a water treatment works to a fire, there was a highly proactive response.
The fire started in an electrical panel at Elvington works. 'Sheffield Corporation (which built the works in the 1950s) had provided a very fine timber roof,' says Spain. It burned spectacularly and fell into the water filters. A recovery team had been assembled by the end of the next morning and the new, pesticide removal stage of the plant reconfigured for emergency treatment. No one lost supply and the works was totally rebuilt by early October.
Yorkshire Water plc has been rebranded as Kelda Group plc, a name derived from the ancient Norwegian word for a water source, to mark a clear separation of non-regulated activities. Last July the company bought US company Aquarion which supplies water to parts of Long Island and New Jersey. Renewable energy schemes include the Arbra project now in construction near Eggborough power station, where coppiced willows will be harvested to generate power.
The parent company also owns shares in two wind farms and a 46% stake in WRG which has global interests in waste recycling.
Specialist waste disposal is handled by Yorkshire Environmental Solutions which is the largest clinical waste incineration company in the UK.